Organization,  Time Management

Working On Multiple Projects

Once you’ve finished your manuscript what do you do next? Becoming serious about writing leads to having multiple projects on the go in different stages of production at once. Maybe a new story you’re writing, one you’re editing, another that is with beta readers or editors, one you’re preparing to launch or get representation for, and one in the early idea stages. How do you organise yourself to keep momentum on all of those? 

Well, there are two main ways of doing this: you either work on one project at a time, until that aspect of it is finished, and then switch to a different project, or you schedule your time to work on multiple projects in different time slots. Each of these has its pros and cons, and I’m going to expand on some of those here.

Work on one at a time

The idea of this is that you have a main focus project, and you schedule different things after each other. For example, your plan might look like this:

  • block 1: write first draft project a
  • block 2: write first draft project b
  • block 3: revise project a
  • block 4: revise project b

The pros of this method are that you can more easily maintain flow, as you’re really grounded in the work. You don’t need to spend time getting back into the characters or setting, or remembering where you were up to. This is probably the fastest way to get one single project done, as you’re not distracted by other things.

But the downside is that your progress is slower on the other projects. And, if you struggle and are delayed on that one project that soon has a knock-on effect to the others. Following this method can also mean you struggle to fit in multiple deadlines and you’ll need to schedule carefully to fit in multiple passes and editorial feedback etc. Lastly, if you get stuck on the one project you’re working on you can then get in a real mental block, as you don’t have another project to switch to and still feel like you’re making progress. 

Work on multiple projects at set times

The idea of this is that you set aside certain times to do different tasks on different projects, maybe drafting your new book in the mornings and then editing in the afternoon. You can choose whether you change tasks at different times of the day or different days of the week, switching on a weekly basis, or whatever works for you.

The pros of this method are that you can make progress on multiple things, and you can switch focus as needed for deadlines. You aren’t stuck doing the same thing all the time, as you have a variety in what you’re writing, and when you’re stuck on one you can switch to another and still make progress.

The downsides are that it can take longer to finish, and you need to re-immerse yourself into each book every time. You might find that switching between projects is tricky, and you can’t so easily get into the flow. There’s also the temptation to do something else and never finish anything.

Like any choice, there is then a continuum between the two. Which you choose is a personal choice, and depends on you and your situation. How much time you have in a week, and how you can split that up depends on a lot of other factors. Have a play around with your schedule and find out how you work best.

Happy writing! 

Clarissa has degrees in problem solving and managing information, both of which she uses as best as she can in her writing. She now lives in The Netherlands with her family, where she writes as much as they will let her. She enjoys the puzzle of creating a new world and tying up all the details into a story.

She currently has two non-fiction books and a collection of short stories available and she blogs at 

Katharine Grubb is an author, poet, homeschooling mother, camping enthusiast, bread-baker, and believer in working in small increments of time. She leads 10 Minute Novelists, an international Facebook group of time-crunched writers. She lives with her family in Massachusetts.