Current Projects: Are You Working on One or Many?

Tuesday, May 14, 2019
Are you a writer who works on one project at a time? Or do you have several projects ongoing at once?

At the moment, in addition to blogging, I am working on three manuscripts. The key, at least for me is to work on three very different projects.

Graphic novel. One of my current projects is a graphic novel for picture book age readers, i.e. grade schoolers. This one is juvenile fiction.

Novel. I am also still drafting my cozy mystery. Like the first, this is fiction but it is adult fiction.

Memoir. And last but not least I am working on a family memoir. Nonfiction is my strength but memoir is new to me.

One of the reasons that I can work on three projects at once is that they are quite different. There are two pieces of fiction, but one is for young readers and the other for adults. There are two pieces for adults, but one is fiction and the other nonfiction. This means that each project has a different audience and a different voice.

It also helps that on most days I work on only one in terms of actual writing. For example, I’ll spend the morning writing a spread (two facing pages) on the graphic novel. Then I let it sit. I noodle the individual panels while I weed or fold laundry. Panel 2 sounds way too much like Captain Marvel. And Panel 3 has appeared in so many super hero movies that it is practically a cliché. When I’ve worked out more interesting details for those two panels, I rewrite them.

But it may take a day or so to solve the problem. Meanwhile, I write up a chapter of the memoir. Memoir days tend to be good days because I can rough out 1000 words or so with very little effort providing that I remember the appropriate details. If I don’t, I fire off e-mails and messages to various cousins and my aunt. Hopefully someone will remember the name of the park or which ranch we were visiting when a certain event occurred.

The cozy is another dance entirely – two steps forward, one step back. Last week, in Save the Cat terminology, I was working on the second beat, a scene which brings the theme into play. I thought I had figured out the essential details, but the chapter bogged down. I spent several days noodling it over only to realize that the problem wasn’t in what I had just written but back in Chapter 1. My set up for beat #2 was wrong so I have to rewrite the set up as well as beat #2.

Working on three different manuscripts at a time doesn’t mean that I am writing on each one every day. I work on one until I get stuck then I let it sit while I work on another. Rotating from project to project is one way to fend off writer’s block and keep making progress, step by step.


To find out more about Sue Bradford Edwards' writing, visit her blog, One Writer's Journey.  Sue is also the instructor for Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults. The next session begins May 20th, 2019.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Sue--So THIS is how you're so prolific, although I think you're not being totally truthful with us. I think you're not juggling 3 project. I think you're juggling at least 9 or 10. ;)

I am usually working on a short memoir piece (like a Chicken Soup for the Soul story) along with my manuscript (when I'm not mired in a deep pool of procrastination).

Good luck with all three projects. When they're finished, I'm sure they'll all be compelling and well crafted.

Renee Roberson said...

Oh yes, I always have multiple projects going on at once. I think I discovered something after reading this post, though! You are working on three very different projects which allows you to go back and forth between them without too much headache. I have two YA novels in the hopper, and I don't think it's feasible for me to work on revisions for both at the same time. I guess I feel obligated to focus on fixing the first one (the older child, ha ha) before I can get to the second one. But I can't seem to finish revisions on the first one! If I'm working on something completely different, like a magazine article, I can finish that pretty quickly.

I guess I'll consider myself lucky that I have too many projects going on at once. It could be the exact opposite with me starting at a blank computer screen :-) Happy Writing, Sue!

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Two YA novels at the same time would be much more difficult. Let us know how it goes!

I'm writing on three. There are probably that many more languishing on my desk. You know me all too well!


Evelyn Krieger said...

I have a front-burner project--the one I devote most of my time to, and a back burner project--one that is percolating. In between, I'll have a few short order projects cooking--an essay or flash fiction piece.

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