Working on Multiple Stories, or What to do with a Shiny New Idea

Jul 15, 2011

And, I'm back! The draft is done, I've written lots of letters to my bro, and I haven't finished the huge work project (darn). The fun summery adventure is taking place next weekend in the form of a zoo trip, and I'm ready to jump into edits for TUGL.


I mentioned in my last post that I got a shiny new idea for a story I'm calling Perception. I used to just write down SNIs and leave them alone until I was done with my current project. This time, though, I've let it simmer in my brain during this last week when I took a short break from TUGL. That means I'm currently querying one book, editing another, and planning a third. I never thought I'd be able to handle three stories in my head at once, but it's amazing what you can get used to. In fact, I'm finding that I kinda like having stories in different stages.

I've discovered a lot of benefits of working on more than one project. For one, it helped get my mind off TUGL this week as I worked on Perception. I always try to take small (and sometimes large) breaks from my WIPs between different stages, and having something else to work on really lets my brain clear of the story so I can go back to it with fresh eyes.

Another thing I've figured out is how much it helps to let new ideas simmer for a few months at least. With Devs, which I'm querying now, I got the idea and immediately jumped into the planning and writing. Then, at 30,000 words, I realized I was writing the wrong story and started completely over. When I got the idea for TUGL, I was still in the middle of rewriting Devs, so it percolated in my brain for months. I considered and rejected multiple ideas-- before I ever put them on the page. I got all that figuring out of the story done before I started writing, making the writing so much easier.

Percpetion will go back to simmer mode for the next few months as I dive into rewrites for TUGL. In dull moments, my brain will play with it, think of new ideas, throw them away, and find better ones. Then, when I'm ready to send TUGL to beta readers and take a break from it, Perception will be waiting for some action.

So, my friends, how do you handle shiny new ideas when they come at an inconvenient time? Are you working on multiple stories, or do you prefer to handle one at a time?

15 comments:

Shelly said...

My MS is finished, except for the edits and rewrites. This morning I finished the first book to my novella seires. Now I'll let it sit for a week and go back and fill in the wholes(I'm a panster). I've got another WIP in progress but some of the characters not meant to be the star are shining way too much. ***drumming my fingers*** Know what you mean about different projects going on at the same time.

akossket said...

I prefer to handle them one at the time. I easily fall prey to new shiny ideas so I have a notebook to hold them until I'm ready to give them my all.
Thumbs up for being able to do so much. :)

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

My process is somewhat like yours. I always have more than one WIP going on. And something new is always incubating. Which helps take my mind off query letter outcomes and the like. :-)

Rachel Searles said...

I usually make notes for the SNI, write a scene or two if I need to, and then let it simmer. Earlier this year I was having major problems with my WIP and had decided to pursue the SNI wholeheartedly. Then I won a blog contest and got to send the first five pages to a new agent, and she tore them to shreds. I didn't really agree with her, but it still killed my enthusiasm. And back to the WIP I went...

Angie Cothran said...

That's quite amazing that you can keep so many stories in your head :) Talk about multitasking. Good luck.

Melanie said...

I am currently querying one and working simultaneously on two other projects which I bounce back and forth between when my overly stimulated brain needs a break from the other. Yes, I'm a two-timing manuscript whore. Never thought I could work on more than one thing at a time, but I had this idea for a story and though I usually jot down my SNIs in a SNI notebook I have, this one was coming to quickly and too fiercely and I couldn't let it go, so I started to write the beginning and then I got an idea for a scene in the book that comes later and wrote that down too, so now I'm 60K into my main wip and 13K into the SNI that won't leave me alone :D

BTW, keep meaning to tell you, but I LOVE that new pic of you in your avi. You look absolutely beautiful!

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

Wow, you're good! I'm very impressed!

I usually just work one one novel-length work at a time, but I can work on short stories in the middle of my novel-writing without any problem. I like to resort to short stories when I'm letting things simmer with my novels.

Amy

Ruth Josse said...

I'm not a very good simmerer. I'm too impatient to get to it. But when I do (which is usually life happening and not letting me write), that's when the ideas really blossom. Maybe I'll learn my lesson:)

Jolene Perry said...

FAB post.

I LOVE having more than one project. LOVE.

It takes me a sec to get "into" whatever I want to work on, but it never takes too long.

I like stopping my edits to work on the shiny new toy, and if I have something on sub (at any level) I NEED distraction.

Have fun with them!

Medeia Sharif said...

I usually juggle two wips at the same time. I finish an entire draft, write a new one, revise the first, and I keep switching back and forth so that one is always on the back burner for me to ponder about.

Steven Whibley said...

I always write 2 at a time, but I get new idea's every other day. Often I'll write out whatever scene I imagined that gave me the idea, then I'll point form detail where the story is going and who the major players are going to be, then I shove it in a folder and wait until I complete my current WIP's before diving head first. The idea's usually percolate a bit and it makes the writing process all the easier.

Shannon Lawrence said...

I write down any shiny new ideas that come along. If they really keep pushing at me, I make a notebook to be dedicated to that story. I let it swish around in my head while I'm working on something else. I haven't gotten to the point where I'm comfortable writing on one story and editing the other; rather, I tend to only do one thing at a time. I'm hoping to get to that comfortable place soon, though!

Julie Musil said...

The process you're going through right now is how I've learned to handle multiple projects. With one book finished, I dove straight into revisions on another. It's helped keep my mind off the submission process. And while revisions are going on, the next idea is simmering. I also began the last one too quickly. This time I'm in no hurry to get started...I want to work it all out in my head first.

Good luck with your juggling act :D

Ellie Garratt said...

Congratulations on completing the draft and on your shiny new idea! Personally, I think having multiple ideas on the go means your can take a break from your current WIP and still be writing - a win-win in my mind.

I currently have four novel ideas that are at the development stage. Yesterday, I put together four new folders with blurbs, mock covers, and notes on each. They are still at the earliest stage but at least I am thinking about them.

Can't wait to learn more about Perception.

Ellie Garratt

Stephanie Allen said...

I have a Word document with lists of scraps of SNIs that I can work on when I'm done with the WIP...I definitely like to handle them one at a time. I focus on them better that way.

Good luck with all of your projects! =)

 
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