The Writing Overacheiver — Writing Two Books At Once

Posted: October 15, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

Dear friend, my writing is dragging today.  I seem to have acquired a bad head cold that kept me up all night.  It’s hard writing with a noggin full of nasty stuff.  Slows down the thinking process a wee tad.

So instead of writing more (I’ve already done 2000 words today) I’ve decided to talk about writing two books at once.   I’ve been doing a little web surfing, looking for good blogs about writing, and came across a discussion of writing two books concurrently.  (Oops, I almost said simultaneously instead of concurrently.  The grammar police would have gotten on to me for that one.  I don’t think it would be physically possible to write two things simultaneously.  What?  Both hands moving at once?  That would be a trick!)

See, the cold medication is getting to me!  So here I am, waiting none too patiently for NaNoWriMo to start on November 1st but having nothing to do in the meantime.  I’m tired of daily prompts.  I’ve outlined and sketched until my eyes are as bugged out as those of my two pugs who sit nearby, hoping that all that tap tap tapping of the keyboard will stop and something more interesting will take its place. I’m bored and want to get going with all the creative stuff that’s ping ponging off the inside of my head.

I’ve been wanted to do a second series of murder mysteries starring an entirely different cast of characters, written from a different point of view.  So just to keep myself amused, I’ve started book one in series two.

I’ve read other writers who do multiple series and I almost invariably like the first series the best.  The characters and plots are crisper, fresher.  I’m afraid that my characters will be the opposite, that I’ve over thought the first series and now it will become stilted.  The second series has a much sassier protagonist and zings with more dialogue.  It’s surprisingly easy keeping the different characters separate in my head.  Each of the series has it’s own pace, mood, setting, so I’m going with the two-at-once thing until it proves itself harmful.

One of the arguments for multiple writing is that we don’t normally read just one book at a time.  I usually have one mystery and a number of non-fiction books going at once, plus my long list of samples of mystery stories I’ve accumulated.  It’s standing at 118 books now, I think.  Sometimes those opening chapters are the only things I want to read.  I can tell when it isn’t written in a style that intrigues me.  Plus it’s good practice for a writer to read the openings of other books for good ideas on how to set up the story and get people turning the pages.  The other argument for a secondary writing effort is that you have something to do while waiting for the writer’s block on the first book.  It keeps you moving and productive.

If you are a writer and have or are trying the writing of mulitple books at once, leave a comment and let me know how you feel about the practice.


  1. eleniaturner says:

    I’m forever starting new projects, which means I never really finish anything. But I don’t think authorial monogamy would really do me too much good, if I get a new idea I have to get it down or it will bug me non-stop. It is also a good way to help me get out of creative funks- if I’m having trouble with one story there is almost always another for me to launch myself back into, so I can keep those creative juices flowing. So I’m with you one hundred per cent.

  2. neelthemuse says:

    It takes a lot of courage to write two books or multiple books simultaneously! One thing that I do simultaneously is read….several books at a time…..even that can be daunting….the book I love will finally be my partner! I guess it will be the same with writing….you’ll just end up writing the book where your voice holds best.

  3. mandala56 says:

    I’m not dedicated to writing the way you are, but for some reason this description reminded me of tandem nursing… 🙂

  4. barb says:

    The closest I’ve come to juggling multiple projects is to keep them all in distinctly different phases (pre-writing, writing, editing). I learned my lesson the hard way this summer when I put a half-completed first project to the side to jump into Camp NaNo. Not only did it take me half the NaNo to get into that story’s frame of mind (and I bet there are still tense and PoV gaffes I haven’t caught yet in there, too), I didn’t enjoy having two great unfinished projects ahead of me. Then, though I had looked forward to getting back into the first story soooo badly, I still had to re-read and get back into the groove. I promptly wrote 2 chapters and hit the “I hate this thing” phase (happens every story for me, and this time it surprised me because my rhythm was off). And this wasn’t even concurrently! So, not gonna try that one anytime soon…

    But if you do end up trying this, I’d love to hear how it goes for you. It’s possible it just takes practice and the first time might not be fun.

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