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NEW IDEA PREDICAMENT

July 28, 2021

            Over the course of the past year or so, just to pick a timeframe, I’d say the subject of working on multiple projects at once has come up at least a half a dozen times on the various forums I participate in. While not the most popular question, it still comes up often enough.

            My usual answer is to stick with one and finish it before you move on.

            Why?

            If you work on multiple projects at a time, you can lose focus, and therefore, the quality doesn’t necessarily win. It’s plain as that. Plus, you can have issues with mixing up stuff between the projects, to the point where you can’t recall which is which.

            How do I know this?

            I’ve done it very early on with short stories.

            Luckily I’ve never had to worry about this with novels…yet.

            Why do I say yet?

MY PREDICAMENT

            Currently, I’m working on a new Meleena novel, Rumblings.

            I’m also doing an edit to my very first novel The Cave.

            Plus, eventually, I need to get back to book #3 of the Meleena series, Across The Endless Sea, which I finished, but which I set aside for a few months, more like a year now, to start the fresh-set-of-eyes edit.

            That’s three projects on my mind.

            As Lloyd Bridges infamous line from Sea Hunt goes, “And then, it happened.”

            Yup, Thursday, a week ago, out of the blue, I came up with a super duper, ultra-spiffy idea for a new icky bug. A supernatural thriller that takes place in Las Vegas. I’d tell you more but I’d have to kill you. At least right now.

            As this idea formulated on Thursday and Friday, I wanted to drop everything and start writing furiously at my new icky bug.

            The issue?

            I had not completely formed either A nor B.

            As of that Friday, I had not decided on a title.

            All three of those things are a big no no before starting ANY story, novel OR short.

            Well…that Friday evening, as I was lying down for bed, about to go to sleep, the title hit me. I also had inklings on how to begin (A) and just the beginnings of the ending (B).

            As of that, Sunday, I still didn’t have a fully formed B yet.

A CROWDED HOUSE

            My plate is already full.

            Okay, The Cave has been sitting since 1995, so if I let it slip for another year or two, it’s not going to matter that much.

            Rumblings is another matter. I’m on a tear with it, creatively. I’m just getting started and my characters are deep into the beginnings of that adventure.

            Across The Endless Sea was the next book to be on the slate for my publisher. Eventually, was going to have to hold off on Rumblings, book four, and get back to Sea and get it ready to submit.

            Oh, and one other thing. Not long before the pandemic, I’d submitted another icky bug, The Greenhouse to my publisher and still had not heard word. After this long, I had a suspicion that it was a big no, but until I got final word, I had to be prepared to make a go with that one if I suddenly got the go ahead to get it ready for publication.

            Then, last week, things got turned on their head. After talking to my publisher, they want me to go back and dig up book number three of my Gold series, Palmdale Gold!

            That’s right, I need to drop everything Meleena and concentrate on the next Detach adventure. The advantages are that I’ve already read Palmdale Gold to the writer’s group, but it was in 2011 or 2012! That means I need to look at it with a fresh set of eyes and a whole lot more experience! Plus, I based it on a real lake. Because it’s privately owned, I needed to get hold of the caretaker. Ever since I wrote the story, I’ve wanted to use the real lake in the story, but the owner didn’t want me to. To avoid getting sued, I changed the name and location of the lake.

            Then, guess what? With another tweak, the publisher also wants another crack at The Greenhouse!

            That means dropping everything else and taking on two books at once. So, while I’m not exactly starting from scratch with either one, that’s still multitasking, just with a slightly less workload.

GENERALLY SPEAKING – MULTITASKING?

            There’s nothing wrong with multitasking. However, how much can you take on and still keep your creativity and originality?

            Since this is a passion and not a hobby, and let’s not get into the differences, which is an entire different discussion, I love to write. I do it because I need to, I have to, and I love to. That all goes without saying. Yet, I also don’t write on any phony self-imposed deadlines, or schedules.

            Now, if you think all of the above sounds like a schedule or deadline, self-imposed or otherwise, it isn’t really. My publisher isn’t pressuring me for the next release. It’s something I want to do, in my own time. I just want to get some things completed because they’re almost already there, but at the same time, I also want to start something new. In the case of both Palmdale Gold and The Greenhouse, I called and asked what they wanted next, so I solicited them. There is still no deadline, but since I just published Spanish Gold early this year, I figured it was time to see what I could get in the pipeline.

            Can I multitask?

            That is the big question.

            Can I multitask and still keep the creativity original and fresh?

            Can I find the TIME to work multiple angles?

            Or, should I stop one thing dead in its tracks, and concentrate on something else, one at a time? If so, will I forget or lose steam on the other stuff?

            Obviously, I can’t stop everything and work on this new icky bug when I now have Palmdale Gold and The Greenhouse to get ready. However, it looks like I’ll have to shelve Across The Endless Sea, Rumblings, and The Cave at least for now due to time constraints, if nothing else.

MY ANSWER MAY NOT BE THE SAME AS YOURS

            Time is not a factor when it comes to my enthusiasm or commitment.

            I wrote the original draft of The Cave in 1995. As I started editing it a few months ago, even bit by bit, the original excitement was still there even after 26 years. It has not ebbed one iota.

            As I’ve had a somewhat erratic writing schedule with Rumblings, has my enthusiasm or creativity waxed or waned when I sat down to write with it?

            Not one iota.

            Time is not a factor for me.

            I could take off a few months or even years to write on any one of my latest masterpieces (ha ha).

            The question is, could you? Could you stop everything and concentrate on your latest, greatest idea? Or, could you multitask and do both?

            Would working multiple projects suck the life right out of your creativity?

            In the case of Palmdale Gold and The Greenhouse, they are both FINISHED manuscripts that just need tweaking. Tweaking is a whole lot different than creating from scratch. Those two can be multitasked just fine.

            My advice still stands for most writers writing entirely new stuff.

            Complete one project at a time. That way you will have at least completed SOMETHING first. I’ve seen way too many writers create half-cocked fits and starts of stuff and in the end, never finish ANYTHING.

            That’s my biggest point.

            There are way too many writers that are great at starting stuff but way too many of them never finish anything.

            Don’t be one of them!

            Happy writing!

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