Productivity Tip #3: Work on Multiple Projects at the Same Time
From Publisher Kevin J. Anderson—The third of eleven tips to help you get more time for writing, and to produce more writing when you do have time
Work on Multiple Projects at the Same Time
This one works best for people with ADD, or low boredom thresholds! (And it doesn’t work for everybody.)
Each writing project has many phases: research, plotting, writing the first draft, doing the rough edit, polishing the final edit, copyediting, proofreading, and the marketing and business. Since some of these tasks are more onerous than others, I keep several different projects on the creative burner at all times at different stages. Personally, I love the creative explosion of plotting the story from scratch and writing the first draft, but the first major edit or the last proofread both seem like a lot of drudgery to me.
However, if I have several novels or stories at different stages of completion, I can switch from one process to another, while charging along at full-steam. The variety also makes the tedious parts more palatable. I can research a new novel for an hour, then write a draft chapter of a different story, then proofread galleys of another novel, answer questions in an interview for yet another novel, then maybe go back to tweak an outline, or do some more research.
Okay, I admit I’m a restless Type-A person. Hopscotching among projects is like a guy with a TV remote bouncing from channel to channel. But this method keeps me fully productive at all times. If I chose only one book, devoted my entire creative time to a lockstep start-to-finish march of taking the kernel of an idea through research, writing, editing, and proofreading, I would feel claustrophobic and stifled.
At one time, I was working my way through the first rough edit of The Sisterhood of Dune, written with Brian Herbert, keying in Rebecca’s detailed copy edits toThe Key to Creation, doing the final proofread of the typesetting on Star Challengers #2: Space Station Crisis, plotting and writing a proposal for the Saga of Shadows trilogy in my “Seven Suns” universe, reading short story submissions for Blood Lite 3, working out details for promotion and a book-signing tour for Hellhole, with Brian Herbert, writing and posting these blogs, and doing logistical planning for our next Superstars Writing Seminars. All of these things get juggled into the daily writing schedule, and I switch from one, to the next, to the next, always keeping the brain moving.
When I grow weary of one type of work (say, proofreading) I switch to another (outlining, or first-draft writing). I find that after working on the same project for a while, it begins to lose its freshness and becomes more tedious. And when I’m not enjoying myself, the process of writing becomes a chore instead of a joy. I try not to let that happen, because I love writing.
So far, I haven’t gotten any of my stories mixed up.
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