Posted in Be a smart writer

A lesson from agriculture: why writing multiple things at once is a good idea.

When I was a teen, I used to write several stories at once. I didn’t know if it was a good idea. Now I know that it is, and I am going to explain you why.

We all have heard of crop rotation, haven’t we? To have an awesome harvest it’s best to sow different types of seeds each year. So that:

  • this year plant A can take nutrients A from soil;
  • next year plant B can take nutrients B from soil;
  • and in two years, plant C can take nutrients C from soil.

During these three years, our field had time to replenish its resources and we don’t need to worry about a poor plant A harvest in the next 3 years. It will grow better than it would, if we sowed it immediately after this year.

“Plants” are novels, and “nutrients” are the internal resources that allow us to write novels.

Those internal resources are: excitement about the writing process, things to say on topics that we’ve chosen, research materials prepared, vocabulary bank, motivation and energy to continue writing etc.

If we write novel A for longer periods of time, then we tend to run out of the internal resources. But – watch out! We run out of the internal resources only for novel A. Not for novel B or novel C.

Choose novel A as your main project, and then novels B and C as the runner-ups. If you  had enough of all of them, take novels D and E as “sweet escapes”. I often enjoy writing something out of my usual schedule – I usually find myself full of ideas and the worflow progresses easily.

The main advantage of the crop rotation writing technique is that you will be able to take breaks from your main project (novel A) without lowering your monthly word count.

The main disadvantage is that the word count for each of the novels will add up slower. However! Nothing disappears in this universe and you will be grateful for all the fragments that you have written earlier.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with writing multiple projects at once as long as you commit to them. 

Choose 3-5 novels which are “must-write” and put them in a priority queue. Even if you work on novels that are lower in the priority queue, they are “must-write”, so your writing work doesn’t go to waste – it will pay off later.

The priority queue should have a limit: you want to avoid the situation where you add three sentences every day to your 15 projects.

The technique of writing multiple things at once works because our internal resources don’t always replenish themselves at the same speed.

Example:

Let’s say you have two novels: novel A is a mystery, and novel B is travel adventure.

If you watch a mystery TV show and read detective novels, you will refuel for novel A frequenly and writing will be easy.

However, if you only feel inspired to write novel B when you travel to a certain place, you will have to go there to refuel.

Because of this, writing novel A will be quicker and easier.

But – if the mystery TV show stops airing and you’ve had enough of Hercules Poirot – you might find out that you have more resources to write the novel B. Which is also a good thing!

I will be honest with you – I seldom feel “always inspired” for the novel I’m currently working on. But, I almost always feel “always inspired” for those 4-5  “must-write” projects that are in priority queue. Cause if I don’t write novel C today, I write novel D.

And one day, that amazing moment will come, when you will finish your projects one after another.

I am not saying that focusing about one novel is bad; on the contrary – you must be focused on one novel to finish it.

But, if you feel you really can’t squeeze out another meaningful sentence, then it’s better to take a break to refuel, and in the meantime work on something else that you are planning to write anyways.

And last, but not least:

!!! Your main goal is to finishing what you already started. !!!

Try not to add more on your plate than you can actually take. Add new projects only after you’ve finished (or given up on) old ones. Change projects only if you really feel you can’t write that text anymore. Be persistent because it’s the key.

I hope it helps.

Stay inspired!

Author:

Hi! I am an author. I've published my debut novel in 2015 in Poland ("Dokąd teraz popłynę?"). My main genre is fantasy and magical realism. I often discuss socially difficult topics in my works and try to pass on a message of hope. I am always inspired and I never stop writing. My writing inspirations are Bruno Schulz, Pablo Neruda, Kiran Desai and Haruki Murakami. In my private life I am a polyglot. I believe in the Law Of Attraction and I write about it on UltimateManifester at Wordpress.

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