Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The creative brain divided

I have discovered a secret way to be more productive—work on more than one project at a time. 

Now, before you all start screaming about it being hard enough to get one creative thing down at a time, let alone multiples—just hear me out.

At the end of August—the start of the school year, and the most hectic time of year for someone who works at a college—I started demanding a higher word count for myself. Now, in part, this was an attempt to save my sanity by massively immersing myself in my creative world because the day job was brutal.

As a “gift” for getting the word counts in for The Sapphire Manticore, I allowed myself to start Victorious Dead (the follow up to Warrior Wench). I wasn’t sure how it would work doing two different books in two different series in the same squished amount of time.

It worked!

Since the end of August, I have cranked out the highest level of word counts I’ve ever done outside of Nano.

I even upped the multi-world issue by adding a light read/edit of A Curious Invasion- a steam punk adventure with vampires and aliens coming out next year.

Now, a few caveats:

1)      There is a very good chance I have a weird brain. I’ve always enjoyed multi-tasking and while I do also enjoy big chunks of magic time to work on a single subject, that isn’t my reality in my day job—nor my writing.

2)       The three projects are all within the SF/F heading, but all different. The Lost Ancients series is a six-book, first person POV, monster. Aka- it is one giant story carved up into six pieces.  The Asarlaí Wars trilogy, is a 3rd person POV, three book only series- shorter story arc, and third person is a different head than first. The steampunk is also 3rd person, but is an open ended series—all books are connected and build on each other, but they are not a single story. The pacing is different-these people drink a lot of tea. Not to say it’s not as fast paced as the others, but the feel (and my headspace) is very different.

3)      I couldn’t do it if they were all the same sub-genre.

The benefit is an increased vitality for all three stories- I am writing more, but they also act as each other’s palate cleanser.  I’m tracking more of what happens in each because I have to stay focused since I have three going. Sort of like juggling, I need to keep my eye on three balls, so there’s less likely of me getting distracted ;).

Will this work for you? Dunno. Worked for Isaac Asimov. He apparently would have a bunch of typewriters with a different story in each—one gets stuck, move to the next (and yep, I’ve noticed that too ;)).

It’s been a great experiment, higher word counts, more engagement, and stronger stories. I have to say I have been pleasantly surprised.

Folks often try to make time for what they want, you can’t do that. Make the time. Push yourself. Go beyond your perceived limits. You might be very pleasantly surprised.


  1. It sounds a lot like that type of training called Muscle Confusion Training where you change up your workout routine to make the muscles stronger. For you the muscle you're working out is your brain. Varying your writing routine and giving yourself options may be growing and strengthening your brain power. How do you like that quasi-scientific analysis? There could be some truth to it. How bored would you get if you only walked the same block over and over and over again? Wouldn't you enjoy those walks if you did one in a park another on the beach then a forest...? Keeping your mind engaged by changing up what it has to think about might be the way to go.

  2. I can never stick to one story at a time anyways, though I don't know that I can call myself productive. (I'll just blame the kids there.) But yeah, it definitely helps the passion!

  3. I think for me multitasking more than one story that I'm writing comes kind of enivitably because I'm pressed for time. Now that I've started a new day job I've been pushed to put at least a little more effort into it and will probably multitask my fiction projects more intently. Your article has given me encouragement for this. Thanks!

    1. Excellent! I totally know I am more of a multitasker because of the full time day job. But I think it's starting to be come such a habit, it'll stick (if I ever don't need the job ;)). Thanks for coming by!