It’s no secret that I have three, sometimes four, manuscripts going at once. All are written from different POV’s in completely different genres. Yesterday I was asked how I do it . . . how I can switch from one set of characters to another multiple times a day. My answer: Mental White Board.
I am insanely organized. I don’t have a date book or a wall calendar posted anywhere in my house, nor do I use my computers handy post-it reminder system. What I do have is this huge white board in my head, one that not only keeps tracks of appointments and coffee-dates, but has character maps, plot lines, and red-line editing projects clearly drawn out. It is so vivid I can actually smell my imaginary sharpie marker.
When I move from one project to the next throughout the day, I simply shuffle whiteboards . . . toss one to the back while bringing another forward. Do I get ideas for my Sci-fi while I am writing my YA contemporary – very rarely. Does editing the extraneous prose out of my Dystopian make me wonder about the word count of my YA contemporary . . . not at all. See, each one exists within the narrow confines of the box I’ve created for it; my attention solely focused on whichever box I have opened.
Is their a benefit to working on multiple manuscripts at once time? Absolutely . . . you never get stuck! When my muse refuses to cooperate on one project I open another, let her play with that one for a while.
And lastly why? Why in the world would I want to stress myself out with writing, editing, and submitting multiple projects at the same time? The answer to that question is probably the most insightful. See, I am an emotional writer. I can cycle through several moods a day, and my writing has become a reflective outlet. When I am angry and feeling unappreciated, I work on my Dystopian. When I am feeling intelligent and snarky, I open my Sci-fi. And when I feel the need to explain to my teenage daughter that life isn’t as bad as it seems, I crack open my YA contemporary.
So in essence, I work on multiple projects at one time because I have to, because if I didn’t the stress of raising two teenagers and a toddler, of having a husband who commutes from Cape Cod to San Jose, and a volunteer schedule that is unmanagable would drive me insane.
What about you? Any of my fellow writers working on multiple projects at a time?