Sunday, February 7, 2010

Work On 1 Novel At A Time

Anyone who knows me will and should laugh at this title. I am one who is incapable of writing only one novel at a time. I managed to focus on one book with success once: during NaNoWriMo 2008. The book is done and ready for rewrite. However, during most of the year I work on anywhere from 2 to 5 novels. But I thought this would be a good topic for this writing blog. Should a writer (usually non-published yet) work on one novel at a time or have many going at once?

Both have pros and cons.

First: 1 book at a time

The pros of this are rather obvious. Your focus is on one story. There isn't as much chance of getting confused and writing the wrong names for the characters or using the wrong voice or even tense when doing the writing. Some people write this way because that is how they get their ideas and so by not trying too many at once they aren't pushing their creative envelope past the edge. The book will most likely get done faster in this method. Writing 80,000 words is an amazing task, and for a one book at a time author that might represent an entire book while it could be only part of several for the other type of author.
The cons to me are not as obvious in this one, even though it's not how I write. One might be that it's almost a putting all your eggs in one basket. If a single novel took 3 years or so to write and rewrite once you get done and it's sent out then you are back to stage one on the next novel. Or a long waiting period if that's all you have to write. (Chances are you have way more than one.)

Next: Write more than 1 at a time

Pros of this are simple. In this method I am able to write many of the stories that are pressing themselves into my mind. I have so many ideas that want to be written, it feels an impossible task to pick one story out of the bunch. Sure, I still have to pick out of the 50+ ideas but it's a little easier to pick out 4-5 then 1 to me. Another pro is that when you're done with one, then you're close to done with another as well. There are many different stories that are in different stages going on so that once that magic first one gets picked up there are others that won't be that far behind that can be offered up.
The cons are different here. It can take even more time to finish a novel because all those words are going to more than one novel. 80,000 words on 3 projects means that each one has only 20,000 or so as opposed to a full 80k. Getting the magic finished number will take time for all of the projects. It is also easy to get mixed up when working on very different stories. I've had short stories I've worked on at the same time where I mixed up character names. It is possible and that can happen more so since I also write very different tones. My mystery is different than the fantasy and Blood Prophesy is a whole different animal. So, it can be hard to go from one book to another and keeping their tone true to what is needed for that book.

What should you do?
The answer is easy. Do what works best for you. No matter the number of lectures I get on doing more than one project I will not change my mind. I am a multi-novel at a time writer. That is just me.