Writing One Book vs. Multiple Books at Once


So, I am about three weeks away from being “finished” with my second Victorian novel and I am sorely tempted to begin my next book and it got me thinking. Why shouldn’t I write more than one book at a time? I’ve never tried writing more than one book at once and I’m not really sure if that is a big no-no or not, so I thought I’d make a list of why to write two books at once and why not to write more than one book at a time in corresponding numbered responses to help sort out the cobwebs of my thoughts on the subject.

Pros for Multiple Books: 

1. Inspiration. When inspiration flows for a story, you don’t want to lose it by simply jotting down the outline and hoping that you can remember all of those little gems that come in that first flood of inspiration.

2. Spreading your creativity. You’ll never be without a story to think about. If you get stuck for the day on Story A, move on to Story B and hopefully, while thinking about that Story B, you might come across for a solution for getting unstuck with Story A.

3. The ultimate focus. Does too much drive on a single project make for sloppy work because the writer is so focused on the end goal that it causes them to slap on an ending just to be done with it and thus, they don’t give their current work their best effort? Maybe this will help spread not only creativity, but focus as well.

Pros for One Book at a Time in corresponding numbered responses to pros for multiple books:

1. & 2. Forcing yourself to be creative. Sometimes, when I write, I get stuck in the mud, so I have to really dig to get myself out and in the digging myself out, I come up with ideas that not only get me out of the mud, but enhance my story in ways that I never even imagined. The mud isn’t always so bad. It makes us work harder for the story that we know is there.

3. Losing drive. When I was in a class with author T. Davis Bunn, he said that he never allows himself to move onto the next project until the current one is finished and on its way to either his agent or publishing house.

My Conclusion:

Inspiration can be captured. As for the inspiration that comes with each new novel being created, I think the best way to capture that is to outline the story as it comes to you in a very detailed proposal. Therefore, the details are safe and when you are ready to devote yourself to the creating of the story, you can poke the muse and say it’s time to start the inspiration again.

Drive is needed for focus. It’s kind of hard for me to argue with T. Davis Bunn’s method as he is a highly successful author, so he knows what he’s talking about! For my writing personality, I need a goal, a finish line with a prize at the end. I like having that other story there reminding me that when I finish, it’s there waiting for me to write. Though I am still tempted to write two books at once, I think for me, I need the drive of the next book to help me finish my current book.

Have you ever tried writing more than one book at once? If so, how did it work out for you? Did you find it helpful? 

Happy writing!

Photo Cred: Unsplash.com

About Grace Hitchcock

Grace Hitchcock's first novella, The Widow of St. Charles Avenue, released in Barbour Publishing’s The Second Chance Brides Collection August 2017. Her second novella will release in Barbour Publishing’s The Southern Belle Brides Collection in 2018. She has a Masters in Creative Writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in History. Grace is a Louisiana Southerner living in Colorado with her husband, Dakota, and newborn son.

6 thoughts on “Writing One Book vs. Multiple Books at Once

  1. These are good points. I think the most important thing to remember is that if you work on multiple books at a time, don’t get completely distracted to the point that you end up with a bunch of unfinished books. Pick one as your focus and another as your future project that you can work on parallel but doesn’t take precedence. That has worked very well for me.

  2. Because of NaNoWriMo, I wrote a second novel while I was still revising the one I’d written the previous year, putting that revising work on hold for the month. However, since November, I have mostly ignored the second novel to keep working on the first one. I think having one project I’m mostly focused on is the best way to ensure that I’ll get the first one done.

    But, I still have lots of other projects I work on now and then. For one thing, I’m trying to work on planning out this year’s November project. And now and then I want to do some surface edits to last year’s novel, to get a break from the one I’ve been editing for over a year now. And lastly, sometimes I just want to *write* instead of the revising nightmare I’m currently in, so I have a completely different story (that’s not even really a planned novel so much as an in-between plot thread that I’ve bee exploring) that I will work on when I just feel like writing.

    So I guess I do work on multiple books, but still keeping the focus on that first one. But then, that first one is still my very first novel, and obviously then is unpublished. Perhaps my priorities will shift if I ever publish that first book and feel a stronger-than-ever drive to get the next one finished, rather than floating around.

    1. Hi Kristi! I signed up for my first NaNoWriMo just two weeks ago, so I am very excited to take part in the challenge of writing a novel in a month with the NaNoWriMo community’s support!

      I agree, the re-writing/editing of the novel is difficult because we have to focus mainly on the editing side and not so much on the creative side. When I am stuck on editing a project and I just don’t think I can go forward, I find that printing out a hardcopy of my manuscript and editing it manually helps me see the progress. The red pen edits can either excite or depress. Haha I like seeing the red edits as it helps push me forward. I love using subplots and for me, when I edit with the hardcopy, I am able to find better ways of weaving the subplot into my story and then, also see where it didn’t work out as well as I had hoped.

      So far, the only multiple book writing I have done is just focusing on my main novel while planning out my outline for the second and like you, I feel like I need that primary book focus in order to give me the fire I need to get it finished.

      I hope your NaNoWriMo project planning goes well! I need to start planning for mine ASAP!

      1. I’ve actually been working from a hard copy for a while now. It’s marked up with several colors of ink (at one time I thought it would help to color code my notes, i.e. red for grammatical mistakes or typos, orange to point out repeated words or phrases, green for notes about plot or character issues, and purple for changes in word choice, sentence flow, etc.), with various notes in the margins and some highlighted areas too. The only reason I haven’t printed my second novel yet is that I know there are some broad changes I need to make first that would be easier to do before I print it, but before I’m ready to start into heavy revision on that one, I’ll have to print it too. Computer screens hurt my eyes and head after a while, especially when reading on them, so I could never do much editing on the comp anyway. Also, I just find I like marking up a physical copy more than editing a file anyway.

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