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Creative Multi-Tasking: 5 Tips to Write Two Books at Once

on February 27, 2014

I am currently in the midst of writing two books at the same time, something I have not attempted since I was a kid. Back then, I would write and illustrate several “books” simultaneously because the story ideas just wouldn’t stop popping into my fertile young imagination. Now, I’m working on two books at once for much the same reason: I had two very different story premises that I just couldn’t ignore, and both begged to be written so stridently that it was impossible to neglect one in favor of the other.

One of my projects is Book 1 of a new Amish series. It’s weird that I’ve now released five Amish books and am working on more, because my original intent was to only write a short series and move on to something totally different. But my Amish books have become best sellers on Amazon, and I’ve become fairly addicted to writing them!

My next Amish series will feature the characters of the Amish Hearts books as they face adult life. Rebekah and Samuel are in college, Jakob is contemplating marriage, and Mercy is straddling both worlds, preparing to start her own Amish bakery but still spending time with Rebekah and Samuel in the worldly “English” college scene. There will be four books in this series, one for each of the main characters, and right now I’m writing Rebekah’s Book: Amish Faith.

My other project is a contemporary teen fiction novel based on the characters of my teen novel Winner. Aubree’s bestie Quentyn becomes an overnight celebrity when she is mistaken for Gemma Haley, the hottest teen pop star out there. The ensuing fame and glamour is every girl’s dream–until it starts disrupting her relationships with her family, friends, and smoky Latino love-interest.

For the past two weeks, I’ve been writing two chapters of my Amish novella every day (target release date mid-March) and one chapter of my contemporary novel every day (target release date some time in May), and both projects are blossoming like spring flowers!

Literary multi-tasking is hard work! Image courtesy of www.thejanedough.com

Literary multi-tasking is hard work! Image courtesy of http://www.thejanedough.com

Here are 5 tips for writing two books at once:

  1. Recharge Before You Start – Make sure you’re feeling like your most imaginative self before you attempt to write two books at once. It’s imperative that you’re feeling fresh and inspired before you start this literary marathon. I started both projects in depth after I returned from a long weekend in Mexico City, and found that I was refueled, energized, and raring to go.
  2. Be Passionate About Both Projects – If you’re more excited about one project than the other, it’s going to show up in your writing. This strategy will only work if you’re feeling equally fiery about both books. If you find that you’re favoring one project, put the other on temporary hiatus. In writing, as in relationships, absence can make the heart grow fonder; you will return to the project later with an undeniable spark.
  3. Know Your Direction – It’s easy to lose enthusiasm for your project(s) if you feel like you’re lost at sea without a compass. That’s why, before I even start writing a new book, I write a “description,” similar to the back cover synopsis of a print book, or the Amazon description of an eBook. Once I’ve written my description, the plot unfolds more easily. And as you write, feel free to draft periodic chapter outlines. Sometimes, the events of the stories will flow smoothly and organically, while other times you’ll appreciate the structure and direction an outline will provide.
  4. Have a Timeline – If you set goals, your projects will succeed–it’s as simple as that. After my first week of working on both projects, I was able to set editor deadlines and release dates. My timeline has allowed me to pace my writing, completing my chapters accordingly.
  5. Compartmentalize – Sometimes, despite our best efforts, working on two projects simultaneously can just get mind-boggling. That’s why I always compartmentalize my books. The schedule that works for me is writing the Amish book in the morning, breaking for lunch and / or workout, and writing my contemporary book in the afternoon. It’s all about setting a writing routine that works for you!

So, ambitious and prolific writers out there, have you ever worked on multiple projects at once? What worked best for you? Feel free to share your experiences!

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2 responses to “Creative Multi-Tasking: 5 Tips to Write Two Books at Once

  1. It didn’t used to be my MO, but now I love working on more than one writing project. It’s liberating at those times when you just don’t feel connected with the main story of the year, but you know you need to work on something.

  2. Agreed, Jason! Working on more than one project is definitely liberating.

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