You’re an indie author, so your income depends on your productivity.
Recently I’ve had several questions about how to write two or more novels concurrently. Busy authors are always working on several projects at the same time, so let’s look at some tips to make this process less stressful.
Indie author: be aware of stress, and stretching yourself too thin
Details, details… The biggest challenge in writing several novels concurrently is keeping track of the details of each book.
Journaling helps. I’ve always been a keen journal writer, so as soon as I begin a new novel, I create a new bullet journal for it. I keep mind maps, character notes, plot details, as well as the novel’s daily tasks, in that novel’s bullet journal.
Now let’s look at some tips.
1. When you’re working on several projects, track what you do each day
Keep a list of scenes, at a minimum. Write your major characters’ traits onto a whiteboard, so you can check them at a glance. Alternatively, create a mind map on your computer.
I create a “master” mind map for each novel, with child mind maps for plot points, characters, important stuff to remember later, etc.
If there’s a problem while you’re writing— you need to research something — place XXX into the text, and keep writing.
Speaking of writing…
2. Stop thinking, start writing: sort it out later
Write! When you get into the habit of writing several novels concurrently, those novels will be in various stages. You might be in a pre-writing phase on one or more, writing a first draft on another, and have two others in various stages of editing.
You’ve got a lot going on. You may find that a week’s gone by, and your production of new material has slowed. Chances are that you’re thinking too much — you’re writing in your head, rather than on the page or computer screen. Write down your thoughts. They’ll spawn other thoughts, and before you know it, you’re in the middle of a scene.
It’s vital to remind yourself to place your focus on writing, rather than on thinking, because it’s easy to forget.
Planning’s essential when you’re working on several novels. Start each day with a five-minute planning session, and review your day’s work at the end of the day too.
3. Write in series (or write a serial) to become more productive
Readers enjoy series, which means you’ll sell more books. Additionally, as the number of titles in a series grows, your series will attract new readers.
The big benefit of writing several series of novels for you is that it cuts down on decision-making. You know the genre, the length, and the voice. You’ve also created locations and characters. All of this saves time; you’ll write more.
Your serials provide you with similar benefits as series do, with the added benefit of rapid publishing.
How many novels could/ should you write concurrently?
I’m a veteran ghostwriter, so my flippant answer to that is: as many as people will pay you to write. (Joke.)
A more serious response: as many as you can handle without becoming stressed. Over near-40 years of writing, I’ve burned out twice, so take it from me: burnout is horrible. Avoid it.
If you’ve yet to complete your first novel, and want to become an indie author, I strongly recommend that you complete your first three novels, before you take on concurrent novels.
Each novel brings its own challenges. As you become more experienced, you’ll be able to write yourself out of disasters. When you’re a newbie novelist, problems lead to procrastination, which leads to a loss of confidence.
Most importantly of all: follow your instincts, and have fun with your writing.
Why write serial fiction?
Everyone's busy today. A serial is by its nature, faster to write, and publish, than a novel.
It's a quicker read too, and many readers appreciate this. While a reader may hesitate before committing hours to a novel, he can read an episode of your serial in minutes.More info →
All authors do; no one sets out to write a boring novel.
Your readers want to enter your novel's world. They want to experience your book -- they want to live your book with your main characters.More info →
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