Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Deciding Which Manuscript to Write Next

Lately I've been having the same problem. I'll get an idea for a new manuscript and as soon as I flesh it out, another one hits. Getting ideas is great. We couldn't write without them. But why do they have to come at the same time?

Last week, I fleshed out my plotting for a new YA novel and wrote 8,000 words of it. Then I had to stop to work on edits for my MG novel. I finished the edits and the manuscript is in the hands of 6 of my lovely CPs as we speak, so I thought I'd go back to working on my YA novel. Wrong. I woke up Sunday morning at 4am with another idea. An idea that I love. 

The beginning of the book came to me so clearly, so I got up at 5:45 and starting writing it down. I had to because I didn't want to lose the MC's voice, which was so clear in my mind. And after writing that small section, I loved the idea even more.

So now the question remains, do I work on both novels at the same time, something I admit I'm not good at doing? Or do I let one novel take over and put the other aside?

What do you do when multiple ideas come at you at once?

81 comments:

  1. I suggest you write the one that speaks to you the loudest. If you get bogged down or lose the thread, the other is always there to take up. Lots of people work on more than one project at a time. I'm sure you can do it! Good luck! :-)

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    1. I'm really not great at working on more than one manuscript at a time. I envy for Medeia for doing it all the time. I wish I could channel her energy and mindset right now. ;)

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  2. This happens to me all the time! I normally find myself focusing for a couple of days on one and then switching over to the other. That way, I don't get sick of them and they still throw up surprises here and there. Have fun :D

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  3. I actually came across this a week or so ago when I was working really hard on my WiP, and in the middle of it a new idea popped into my head. A good idea. And I felt myself being pulled to write both at the same time. So I asked my writer friends/CPs about it, and they all told me the same thing: Write one at a time. Otherwise you can lose your voice, get overwhelmed, etc. etc. So I jotted down notes on the idea that popped into my head and went back to focusing on my current WiP. :)

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    1. See, that's what I'm worried about. I tried writing two manuscripts at the same time in the fall of 2012 and I ended up running with one of them after a few chapters of each because it got to be too much to work on both.

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  4. I think you should put one aside and write the one you really feel! I no you may feel both of them however the one you just started sounds like something that will stick with you and nag you if you dont write it first. It is like it is two children pulling on your arm for attention one has to get it eventually :) LOL

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    1. I love the new idea but the other manuscript is fully plotted so it might write itself. That's why I'm so confused. LOL

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  5. Well, based on certain contract restrictions, I usually know what I need to work on next. That is, who has an option clause on what kind of work and where there might be a non-compete clause for a certain type during a specific time period ...

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    1. Yeah, these are both new ideas, so no deadlines this time. Maybe that's my problem. LOL. I work better under a deadline. ;)

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  6. I also like to work on one project at a time.

    Maybe, work on the one that is calling you more. Then, if you run out of words or have another hold up with it, you still have the other one to fall back on. While working on the first one you could keep making notes for the other one if they come to mind. Just a thought

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    1. Terrie, that's probably what I'll end up doing. It seems like the best plan.

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  7. I would work on one. I can't even manage to make any progress on it with all the other stuff I do. I've shelved two others, and they'll still be there some day.

    I think it would make you less stressed if you took on the one that grabs you most. Run with it. Come back for the other(s) when done.

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  8. Firstly, it's great to have such a creative mind!! But honestly, I can actually relate to this. I have so many ideas at times that it stumps me. My brain gets all jumbled up and I start questioning which one to choice, which choice is the correct one.

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    1. Yes, it's a good thing but it's troublesome too. LOL

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  9. If there are no real deadlines for either story, I would work on the one that is most important to you. If it's not the new story, then I'd make a good outline on the new one so I don't forget what's in my head and then return to the other. I'm always working on 2 or 3 stories at a time, but they are just short picture books so it's probably easier on those.

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  10. Definitely whichever is the most clear to you. Now, if they're equally clear...I have no idea! LOL Good luck :).

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    1. One is definitely more clear. I plotted the entire book already. I guess I should stick to that one and just jot down ideas for the other.

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  11. I think the deciding factor is a combo of branding and excitement level. In general, I go with the project I'm most pumped by.

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    1. That's usually what happens for me, too.

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  12. I'd let one take over. I'm having the opposite problem. I have a few ideas, but the only thing with enough conflict to really plot I can't write right now. But maybe I'll be sneaky and do it anyhow.

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  13. So far, I take down as many notes as I can about ALL my ideas - then work on the one that's "calling" the loudest. To me, writing projects are like lovers - you can't pay proper attention to one if you're lusting after another.

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  14. I can relate to this. When I was working on rewriting S.S the Fairytale Spoken hit me hard. I tried ignoring it. For about three to four days because I needed to get SS done. But after that long of being in my head I finally caved. I spent the day just writing what was in my head, ended up with 7K when I had to stop to pick up my daughter from school. It was the only novel that stuck with me from start to finish within a month. So my suggestion, write the one that won't leave you alone.

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  15. I think Anne blogged on a similar problem last week. For me, I'd jot every story idea down then work on the one that tears at me the most. I'll get to the other one in another time. Best of luck with the new ideas, Kelly!

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  16. When I get a shiny new idea (which does happen fairly frequently), I like to let it sit in my brain and develop for awhile. That way I can see if it has legs enough to actually turn into a full story and I can also focus on writing the book I've probably been working on awhile and has lost it's shininess.

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    1. I think I'll have to let the newest idea become clearer and work on the other.

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  17. I think you should do whatever feels right to you. For me, I enjoy working on simultaneous novels because then something is always there waiting for me whatever mood I'm in. As you can see, I'm all about "the muse." :)

    At least you have so many ideas. This blogpost could be about writer's block...

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    1. LOL. True. Luckily I don't get writer's block very often at all.

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  18. I jot the idea down and continue on with what I was doing. When I have time afterwards--and the idea still speaks with a booming voice--then I'll use it.

    An idea that wasn't brilliant fizzles and fades; a good one sticks around as long as it needs to, I think.

    Also, the Sunday at 4am idea is hilarious. I get those usually before falling asleep and stay up an extra 2 hours writing a four-page synopsis!

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    1. I'm glad I'm not the only crazy one who plots novels instead of sleeping. ;)

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  19. I'd say go where your heart leads you on that particular day. Your inner writer will direct you where you need to go. Listen to your gut.

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  20. I've learned I can't work on more than one thing at a time. I can't even plot something new until I've finished editing the old. I would say start writing what you want. If it isn't going the way you want, switch. :)

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    1. I really can't either. I tried, but failed.

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  21. I'm a one-at-a-time-gal, and have made a pact with myself that I must finish what I start before going on to the next... works for me, because sometimes the beckoning of a new story makes me finish the last. (Speaking first drafts here. The rest is never finished.)

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    1. That's how I always was, too. I really don't want to sway from that method either.

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  22. It's a good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless. What I've done so far is jot down the ideas I'm having as soon as they strike, so I don't lose that initial inspiration. But then I let them sit while I finish whatever current project I'm doing (it is hard to juggle two stories at the same time). I have a list of ideas that I'm sitting on, and it's going to be tough to decide to work on next!

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    1. Yes, I'm jotting down ideas, too. I have too many swimming in my head to keep up with them all.

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  23. That's a difficult decision, isn't it? Usually, I hop from one story to the other and then I see which one really takes off first. I realize that I'm not always 'ready' to write a story until many years later. Some take years in the back of my head, others get written immediately.

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    1. Yes, some ideas do need a while to form completely. I think I'm going to write the one that's already fully fleshed out in my mind and on Scrivener. That will give the other idea time to form.

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  24. I know how you feel. I'd be working on one novel then get an idea for another and I'd start working on that. Soon, I was writing like several novels at once but they weren't getting done. What I do now is seriously work on one novel on the computer and if I get ideas for another one, I confine them to a journal. One journal is filled with nothing but the first couple of chapters of a novel I'll be working on next.

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  25. My brain explodes! It's really kind of messy! :)

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  26. I cannot even imagine working on two at the same time - I would go with the one that speaks to you more. I think it is much easier to focus in on just one. Good luck!

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    1. I find it too hard to work on more than one manuscript, too.

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  27. I work on all of them until one grabs me. I know that will happen, so I don't worry about when. I finished writing a book recently. Now I'm playing with a bunch.

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    1. I did that in the fall. I started two manuscripts until one took over completely.

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  28. I tend to write on which project is speaking loudest to me. I can't read two books at once, thus I can't write on two fiction projects at once. I can work on multiple projects at once provide they are different, You've got lots of great advice here, but in the end you will follow the voices.

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    1. Oh, those voices. They win every time, don't they?

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  29. I tend to get weepy because I can't find the time to give my attention to several ideas at one time. Then I get it together and make notes.

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    1. LOL. Yes, I think notes for one is the way to go.

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  30. Quite the conundrum. All you can really do, I guess, is follow your gut. If it's pulling you more towards one, go for it. If it's pulling you both ways, I go with the one you have to put down or else you'll forget.
    Personal experience tells me that when this happens, sooner or later, one project commands so much attention that I follow through with it until I run out of steam. But go with whatever you feel comfortable with, whether it's juggling or sticking with one that speaks most to you at that particular moment.

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  31. Awesome to have so many great ideas. When it rains, it pours! I think you will have to do what feels right. Maybe one book will take the lead and the other will end up being notes for a while. Good luck! :)

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  32. I usually juggle two to three manuscripts at a time, but if I couldn't I'd choose the idea I felt most strongly about.

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    1. I wish I could juggle manuscripts like you do, Medeia.

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  33. Oh, I could never write more than one at once. This happens to me all of the time. I usually work on one if/until it comes to a standstill, then I pick up another and go for it until I find one that sticks. For me, it just takes weeding through the bad stuff to find the diamond.

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  34. Give it a try and see what happens! I'm usually working on two things at once. I just stay open to the ideas. I'm afraid if I push them away, they'll never come back. :)

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    1. Yes, I'm afraid of that, too, which is why I take notes at the very least.

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  35. Oh boy, I'm sure I will have this problem soon. Now I concentrate to get the first Young Fighters novel finished, but when it's done I have to make a really hard choice between three manuscripts I'd love to write next. If I was you I would write the one that makes you think "I have to write this. Now."

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    1. Three? Good luck deciding which to work on next.

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    2. Thanks! I have a feeling I'll end up to work on two of them at the same time.

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    3. I wish I could do that. My mind just doesn't work that way.

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    4. I'm not sure if mine does either, but I'm going to try. It would be great if it worked!

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    5. I hope it works for you, and I hope you're feeling better.

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  36. I've been having the same problem. I'm working on finishing one WIP--that I love. Another idea came to mind and everything was SO CLEAR and I was really excited to start it when my current WIP was finished, but now I have two more ideas that I just love. I'm not sure how to decide which to write first. I'm kind of letting the characters decide for me. Whoever is speaking the loudest will get first priority. The others I keep a file of detailed notes, scenes, character studies and so forth. That's how I'm handling it, but I'm so afraid of losing the feel of the other MSs.

    Michelle :)

    Author, PODs available June 4th
    Visit Me!

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  37. I've experienced that a lot as well, Kelly. I find that sometimes I just have to set things aside and hope they come back to life later. Personally I am not good at juggling writing two books at once (although I know some people can). That being said, I do find I enjoy alternating between two series. It works out nicely to get a break between the original and second.
    Thanks for sharing :)

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    1. It's funny because I can read up to three books at once with no problem but when it comes to writing books, my characters battle for my attention and one book ends up winning out in the end.

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  38. I think I can compartmentalize two different projects at once- I've written one solo at the same time as co-writing another- but it does still mean that one ends up taking a priority.

    Just as long as you're not mixing up characters between the two.

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    1. Mixing up characters wouldn't be good at all. ;)

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