Try Writing Two Stories At Once

Not in the same instance, of course.  But simultaneously across days or weeks.

If you find it difficult getting just one story done, you’re probably thinking I’m crazy.

A couple of weeks ago, I would have agreed with you.

However, in the recent big shake up around here, my schedule also got shaken up to meet the following criteria:

  1. The writing of my “primary” books continues at a vastly decelerated pace, so that I’m producing a new release every six weeks, and one title per series per year.
  2. This much much slower pace gives me more time to plot and mull over the story, and to write longer stories if I so chose.
  3. My schedule also provides time for “Secondary” writing projects.  This time is for fun, no-pressure projects and other projects that scratch my artistic curiosity.  For example, writing short stories for pro markets and the many, many anthologies being published these days; writing shorts and/or longer stories to fill holes in old series, or for reader magnets.  Trying stories in odd genres or mash-ups.  Developing story ideas and see if they have potential.  Writing shorts to practice new techniques.  You get the idea.

Some of the secondary writing will be published in between the primary stuff.  It depends on how and when I produce a story that I want to publish myself instead of market to publishers.  The idea is that there is no pressure, that I indulge myself.

Most of what I plan to write will be short stories, up to short novels.  Or perhaps even longer novels–there is a second book in a series I would love to write, but the first book was 250,000 words, and trying to squeeze a sequel of that size into my primary schedule is impossible.  So maybe I’ll use my secondary time to work on that.  Maybe a bit at a time–I’ll see how it goes.

I will be spending nearly as much time on secondary writing as I will be on primary writing–unless I don’t get my primary writing quota done that day, in which case I have to sacrifice secondary writing time to catch up.

Don’t Try This Yourself If:

This is an experiment that wouldn’t work well for you if you have trouble getting yourself to write from a cold starting point, because you’ll have to do it at least twice each day.  (And if you’d like to fix that, see “Just Start” here and here and elsewhere, too.)

And if you only have a couple of hours a day to write, then breaking that time up might not be productive.  Less than an hour to write is barely enough time to pick up the story strings and get going.  Starting cold twice over will make you lose unnecessary time.

But if you can arrange two long writing periods per day, then give this a try — split your time into a ratio that works for you (I recommend 50/50 to start), and use half the time to get your primary “must do” writing done and half to get secondary fun projects going.

Also, the lackadaisical pace of your primary writing is not what I would recommend if you are a Kindle Unlimited author, where the 30 day cliff is deadly.  This much slower release pace is something that only Wide authors can survive.

What I Thought Would Happen

Before I started this new schedule, my fear was that my attention would be too divided, and I would lose focus on one story, in favour of the story that appealed to me the most.

I also thought I would strip gears, writing the primary books so slowly.

I also feared that I would drain my creative energy tackling two projects at once.

None of that happened.

The Upside of Writing Two Books At Once

  1. The fun I’m having with the secondary writing is breathing energy into the primary writing, too.
  2. The shortened sessions of primary writing, which used to take on the patina of “I have to write this” now feel very, very easy.
  3. Even though I’m “only” writing two stories at a time, my creative brain is exploding with more and more ideas of what to write next.  Writing two at a time increases creativity exponentially.
  4. I’m immersed in what feels like a carnival of stories, many of them short enough (I can knock out a short story in a couple of days), that there’s always something new simmering just ahead.  I’m a kid in a candy store again–a sensation I don’t remember experiencing in quite a few years of rigid production schedules and high reader demands and expectations.
  5. I actually look forward to writing now, and don’t have to “make” myself write each day, which is surely the biggest bonus of all.

If you have the time to spare each day, and you don’t have issues getting back into a story (although, re-acquiring a sense of fun with your writing should take care of that), then give this primary/secondary writing schedule a try.


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