Tuesday, 22 June 2010

In Between Days

Most aspiring writers I've come into contact with have many coals on the fire. I'm talking about manuscripts and WIP's, of course. Either they have multiple works-in-progress, or a finished manuscript and one or more WIP's, or more than one finished manuscript and a WIP or two to boot. This is, as far as I'm concerned, normal writer behavior.

But how do you get into the right mind-set when you've got multiple projects?

What do I mean by mind-set? When I work on a story, I try to really get to know the characters. I get involved with what's happening to them. I invest myself in their lives. And when I'm finished with that story, although it's still with me, I have to let it go a little in order to move on to the next story. Not completely, of course, but enough that I can concentrate on my next batch of characters and situations.

So let's say, for example, you're querying your finished manuscript and working on one of your WIP's. Now what happens when you get agent feedback for that finished manuscript and you decide to make appropriate changes. How do you switch mind-sets from one story to the other?

You tell me. Do you find it easy to keep all your characters in check? Do you stop working on a new project for a while when you're faced with feedback on a project you're currently pitching? Or are you an expert at juggling these things in your mind? And most importantly, how do you keep from going crazy in the process?


Tahereh said...

hmmmm. i always try to finish one project at a time. i can't really work multiple MSS at once. but i do try to juggle quite a bit.

ugh it's so hard sometimes. :(

so much to juggle.

but we do it because we love it, don't we :)

Dorothy Dreyer said...

It is hard. And yeah, we do it because we love it. It's a bad romance. *now has Lady Gaga earworm*

Gina said...

Hmm...interesting question. Though I am not a writer, from a reader's standpoint you are faced with a similar dilemma. You constantly have the question asked of if you read one book at a time or have a few going. Personally....I have two going (at least)...but there are reasons. One not unlike writers, readers can get bored with reading the same type of stories one right after the other...the material seems repetitive. To spice it up, having more than one book going allows you to introduce other characters to the mix. Also, you mood had a lot to do with writing as it does with reading. Perhas I'm not in the mood for a Memoir today, yet that is the book I am reading....having another one at the ready allows you to fit the reading mood you are in without neglecting the other.

Great post...curious to see what other writers say in response.

Dorothy Dreyer said...

Thanks, Gina. Yeah, I can understand that perspective. TV shows comes to mind: I can easily follow several different shows and still feel close to certain characters without getting confused.

I guess that's a little different though in that it's extremely passive.

I'm also curious to see what other writers say. But maybe they're all experts already in keeping the various storylines and characters organized (ie: maybe there's something wrong with my head, lol).

Jenn said...

I usually have a little routine when that happens or when I take a slight hiatus from my WIP. Call me crazy, but I have a folder with photos of my all my characters (actors,singers, etc that I think fits my characters) and I put it through slide show and just watch it. As each character pictures comes up, I think about them a little bit. Then I read a few chapters of my manuscript to get the "voice" of the MC back since I usually write in 1st person. :)

Plus I'll have my cast ready when my novel becomes a movie! lol A girl can dream...

Dorothy Dreyer said...

Wow, Jenn, that's a fabulous idea! I think I'll have to try that. What a great tip!

Nikki said...

I wrote two novels last year. When I'm in edit mode, I can only focus on one - but I have no problem switching to the other when I'm done! I'm sure that would change if I had no choice :)

Dorothy Dreyer said...

Yeah, I would think that in edit mode, concentrating on one is the best move. I guess this whole thing came up because I'm thinking about things to fix in my ms (due to feedback) but feeling guilty about not working every day on my WIP.

Oh well, I'll figure it out. Thanks for the input, Nikki! :)

Stina said...

I know my character's so well, it isn't a problem to switch. But then again, I'm not writing two books at the same time like some writers. One is usually in the planning process and one being edited.

I've got two books outlined. This isn't typical for me. I had just finished outlining one, but the wip I was working on was so intense in places (as was the outlined story), I decided to come up with a lighter story to work on next. I've finished with the outline, and will spend a lazy summer finishing off the characterizations. And my wip is almost ready for me to start querying. If I do need to edit so more, the characters are very different, so I can keep them straight. :)

Dorothy Dreyer said...

That sounds very smart, Stina. Another technique I need to train myself to be better at. :)