With a Type A personality, I have to admit that there’s something beautiful in being laser-focused on just one thing for a while. You can get into a state of flow that enables you to produce a draft more quickly.
But I’m also a realist. I’ve learned that, in most cases, it’s better to have multiple writing projects going at once. The benefits include
- Pivoting to a different project that best suits your mood or attention level, which improves writing clarity, authenticity, and accuracy.
- Staying active and feeling more productive even as you wait to hear back from beta readers, editors, agents, etc.
- Setting work aside to work out kinks more naturally, rather than trying to force solutions in the moment.
- Being able to practice different types or styles of writing
- Improving time management through more serious task scheduling and prioritization
- Being less stressed and allowing yourself to quit what doesn’t work because you know all of your eggs aren’t in one basket
But this doesn’t mean you should overdo it. Ambition is great, but there are limits to how much you can bite off and chew. If you have some great ideas for articles, novellas, books, etc. but already have yourself scheduled, it’s okay to push those ideas out. Just jot them down with enough detail that you can pick them up later. Ask yourself which writing projects best fit your overall writing goals, and leave the ideas that aren’t ideal for those goals on the shelf.
As for how to pick your writing projects, ask yourself
- Will this project bring in income?
- How will the project influence my relationships?
- Are any projects more timely, or are they evergreen?
- Which projects do I keep coming back to or thinking about?
- What type of commitment does the project involve in terms of time, expertise, and resources?
Personally, I’ve found that having two or three big projects (e.g., novels) and 5-10 articles a week is plenty of variety. You might find that you can handle less or more, but you absolutely need time when you are not writing. It’s during that time that your brain gets a chance to recover and you can experience all the amazing things that later can be fodder for the page. Be self-aware, find your rhythm, and then don’t quit.