Writing two different novels at the same time?

Juliana

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#1
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I've made a good, solid start to the third book in my trilogy, and I don't want to lose momentum. The only problem is, something new showed up to the party, and it wants out. I started jotting down an opening scene a week ago, just so I wouldn't lose the idea, and I'm already 14k words in to the new unplanned thing.

I really REALLY want to work on this. But I also don't want to lose the good start to the other WIP, and have to get back into it later. Since they're very different from each other (UF vs Fantasy/ 3rd person multiple POV vs 1st person single POV), and I won't get them mixed up in my head, I was thinking of trying to work on them at the same time, something I've never tried before except with short stories/novels.

I was thinking, 1 week intensive with one, and 1 week with the other, alternating but giving each a solid chunk of time, with the 'off week' to marinate ideas while I work on the other thing.

Has anyone ever tried something like this before? Any other ideas of how to manage it?
 

Vaz

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#2
Doesn't Sanderson do exactly this, work on multiple projects all at once, that way if he gets stuck on one he just bounces to another so as not to lose momentum.

I do work on different things all at once, so I am always writing and it tends to help if I have writer's block to just jump on over to another story until I can get back into whatever one I have been writing first.

Admittedly I am a hobbyist, write slowly, and tend to focus on Fantasy Novellas rather than epic awesome full length tomes.

I tend to write three days on one. Then three on another with a day off where I will seek inspiration from long walks with Swedish heavy metal banging down my eardrums! XD
 

Juliana

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#3
I'm definitely no Sanderson!

I tend to write three days on one. Then three on another with a day off where I will seek inspiration from long walks with Swedish heavy metal banging down my eardrums!
That feels like a solid system. I could probably get hold of some Swedish metal. ;)
 

Teresa Edgerton

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#8
Lots of writers work on two books at once and it seems to work for them. I could never even begin to do it, since whatever I am working on at the time tends to fill up all the writing space in my brain (and also I think some other parts of my brain that it might be nice to be able to use, but no such luck).

The question is what will work for you, Juliana. It may take some trial and error to find out.
 

Scookey

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#10
I've made a good, solid start to the third book in my trilogy, and I don't want to lose momentum. The only problem is, something new showed up to the party, and it wants out. I started jotting down an opening scene a week ago, just so I wouldn't lose the idea, and I'm already 14k words in to the new unplanned thing.

I really REALLY want to work on this. But I also don't want to lose the good start to the other WIP, and have to get back into it later. Since they're very different from each other (UF vs Fantasy/ 3rd person multiple POV vs 1st person single POV), and I won't get them mixed up in my head, I was thinking of trying to work on them at the same time, something I've never tried before except with short stories/novels.

I was thinking, 1 week intensive with one, and 1 week with the other, alternating but giving each a solid chunk of time, with the 'off week' to marinate ideas while I work on the other thing.

Has anyone ever tried something like this before? Any other ideas of how to manage it?
Personally I don't think you will do either full justice by flitting between the two. They could both turn out well but not as well as they could have, had you focused on one at a time. Why not make detailed notes for the second so you can go back to it after finishing the first? Just a thought :)
 

Teresa Edgerton

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#11
But I do want to give this a try... You never know until you do, right?
Right. Write what you feel compelled to write. If that turns out to be the third book in the trilogy instead of this new idea which has caught your fancy I think you will find that out soon enough if you try switching projects. In that case, it will be easy enough to go back to what you were working on.. If you continue to be consumed by the new idea, then that is probably what you should be doing.

It's not like you have never completed a book before; you're not the type that stops in the middle of what she is doing to pursue the bright butterfly of each new idea that crosses her mind and never finishes anything. If you were, maybe it would be important to commit to the discipline of sticking with the project you've already started. But that is not the case here. Trust your instincts.
 

The Big Peat

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#13
I frequently have multiple ideas on the go.

I'm not sure it works for me. Giving the idea some structure definitely sounds like a good idea.

That feels like a solid system. I could probably get hold of some Swedish metal. ;)
Finally, questions on which I'm an expert! :p
 

HareBrain

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#14
I did swap between the two, and it worked OK for a bit, but I didn't do it for long. I found the voices interfered with each other a bit (then again, unlike in your case, both were third-person past), but more importantly, I found I couldn't voluntarily switch my interest between the two.
 

Biskit

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#17
I don't do it often now, but I have in the past. I think my peak was three at once - two got completed, one died a death and I keep meaning to go back to it. What mostly worked for me was being able to swap when one floundered.

Back in the Autumn I resumed work on a stalled novel as a break for the one I'm aiming to put out in March, but now I'm back into the editing and polishing, writing something else would be too much of a distraction. While I'm in this one-year cycle of producing a series, I'm pretty locked in to the one book, but I could see myself going back to having multiples on the go.
 

Scookey

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#18
The only real project swapping I do at the moment is between my sci-fi book writing and psychology studies.
Internally, I do swap between book story threads but keep a paper copy of each chapter outline as a log of what is happening where, to keep everything tight. At least that's the plan :)
 

thaddeus6th

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#19
I think most, maybe all, of the Sir Edric books have been written whilst I've also worked on the Bloody Crown Trilogy.

This worked quite well, but might be due to particular reasons. For a start, Sir Edric is single POV which makes continuity miles easier than multi-POV (and spread over three books closely linked rather than stand-alones). Also, the trilogy slowed down a bit, necessarily, due to repeated misfortune with beta readers. Every one I had was good, but they all disappeared or suffered some sort of misfortune and had to stop, which didn't happen with Sir Edric.

Personally, I'd avoid alternating weeks. It's a bit clunky. Suppose you're really enjoying writing Book A and doing great stuff and then the timer buzzes. Is it really a good idea when you're enjoying yourself and being productive? Plus, it may make Book B feel like a chore if you've just quit something you were really enjoying because the schedule says so (there are many downsides to writing, of course, but one of the big upsides is freedom of action).

I tended to work more chapter-by-chapter. Also, I usually prioritised the 'serious' stuff over the comedy, because the comedy was much easier and quicker to write (for the reasons mentioned above, plus the first draft of a comedy is lots of fun to put together).

At the momentum, I'm proofreading Crown of Blood, and working through beta notes for Sir Edric and the Corpse Lord. It may be that the different styles are quite helpful, but it's not really been a problem, and has often been quite helpful to work on two books at once. If you're waiting for a beta reader to get back to you for one, you can work on the other. If inspiration's missing for one, you can try the second.
 

Juliana

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#20
Personally, I'd avoid alternating weeks. It's a bit clunky. Suppose you're really enjoying writing Book A and doing great stuff and then the timer buzzes. Is it really a good idea when you're enjoying yourself and being productive? Plus, it may make Book B feel like a chore if you've just quit something you were really enjoying because the schedule says so (there are many downsides to writing, of course, but one of the big upsides is freedom of action).
Good point. I noticed last night that there's a natural stopping point coming up soon, as I have plot stuff to work out, so I might do as Jo suggested and try working by 'sections'.

You've all been very helpful, thanks!
 

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