At some point in every writer’s life, typically sooner rather than later, they are tempted to write two stories at once.
Sometimes it’s because they have two brilliant (or three, or four) ideas at once, and they CAN’T CHOOSE. Often it’s because they had a brilliant idea, started writing it, and around the 20k mark things got…a little less exciting. A little slow. A bit tricky. They looked out the window to stare moodily at the landscape, when BAM. Brilliant new idea goes flashing across the glass. And, well. Brilliant new idea just won’t go away. It becomes a minor obsession. The not writing it, the idea of giving it a try.
Especially when it’s a really good idea. That makes it easier to justify. (This one is more marketable, I should be writing it first.) (This one has a better hook. Agents will like it more!) Yeah. Right.
There is also a third scenario, which involves crazy deadlines and being forced to write two things at once, but that’s an entirely different beast and I’m nowhere near qualified to discuss it.
Tonight I want to discuss the minor flirtation.
Ahem. The minor flirtation with IDEAS, you know: the idea flashing past the glass.
We all have this, I think, through the course of writing novels; and I’ve learned to channel these flashing ideas into short stories, to give me something new to think about that will resolve neatly and allow me to continue writing my WIP. But in the past it was always like, OMGOSH, this is such a good idea, I have to write this. No, I mean I really just have to write this. I can’t abandon old novel…but I could do both! At once! They’d inspire me to write each other. They would give me breaks from each other, and that way I’d be twice as productive.
That’s always how our thought process goes, isn’t it? But the answer is…no. Even if you think it’s part of your process…it’s probably not.
I used to know people, great writers, back on the Absolute Write forums, who did this. They’d start out with one WIP in their siggy, and then they’d have two, and then three, and then four…until the old ideas were trunked and the new ones became old ones. It was a never ending cycle. And the only way out of it was to shut the door, pick one idea, and write it until it was done.
So that’s always been how I’ve done it. Once or twice, very rarely when I simply can’t STAND it any more, I’ve tried writing two things at once. Usually it’s with some sort of stipulation, like, when story #2 stalls out around the 20k mark like I expect it to, it’s back to WIP #1 with you. Or sometimes I’ve allowed myself to pick away at a secondary story that has had a sudden resurgence in interest, because I doubt it’s going anywhere at the moment. I’ve noodled with this idea before, and it has a long way to go before it can become a full-fledged novel. So there’s no worry it will try and take over. I’ll ride out the flirtation, learn what I can learn, and go back to my WIP without any guilt.
This is the point when I normally start giving you examples based off my own novels. The problem with that is, the examples are long. They involve an Awful Lot of Blabbing. So this time, I decided instead of making one incredibly massive posts…
I’d split it into two. Part 2 comes Wednesday, when I will be discussing one of the other alternatives, that I may or may not have slipped into. COUGH. But for today, what do you guys think of about the minor flirtation? Have you ever struggled with it? How do you deal with it? Has anyone out there ever managed to write two novels at once and done so successfully? Because, despite what’s coming up in Wednesday’s post, I just have a hard time believing that could work unless you were really, really motivated.
(You people with deadlines, I feel for you. Deeply. How do you stay sane doing that?)