Writing Wednesdays: How I juggled 8 writing projects last year

Last year I worked on eight different books... Here's how I managed to juggle it all!

A few months ago, I posted about how I was working on seven different books in 2019. (That’s recently turned into eight books… Oops.) And that’s just the ones I plan to publish, not the bits of fanfic I write for fun.

Anyway. Eight different writing projects. That’s a lot, especially when I’ve got a day job to balance, too. But I’ve done it, and in this post, I’m going to share a few ‘hacks’ (for want of a better word) as to how I juggled all of this.

1. Managing my time and knowing how I work

This is probably the most important part of it. I know that I work better when I have a deadline and I work well in the evenings. I know that if I’m a bit stuck, I need to get out of the house and have a change of scenery, so go to write in a café. I know that if I get home from work and sit down, I will not move until it’s time for bed, so that’s a recipe for disaster.

So – I manage my time, even the down time. 

I use ToDoist to plan out my week, so I don’t forget to reply to an email and know when I’m going to do the housework. If I have chores to do, I’ll do them as soon as I get in from work, freeing up the evening to write, when I’m more productive. I’m better with structure in my day, so actually having a job to go to five days a week (even if I work from home for some of those days) is a huge help.

2. Having deadlines

I am much more efficient when I have a deadline – when someone is expecting something from me, and I have less space to procrastinate. If I’m sent edits and told ‘just get them back when you can’, those edits are likely to sit in my inbox until I’m chased up to see how I’m getting on. I’m not saying this is a great quality, but it’s one I doubt will ever change, so I know I’m far better when I’m given a deadline. I actively ask for them, or else impose them myself – even if it’s just ‘get to 35,000 words on that book by the end of the month’.

3. Trello

I use Trello to keep track of my writing projects. I create a board for each book, and each one will have notes around the characters, the timeline, and so on – so when I’m bouncing between different projects, that’s an easy way for me to check in on where I was, what’s going on, and where I’m going next.

4. Focusing on one thing at a time

...to some extent.

Here’s an example. The proof reading of TKB2 was due, but I was also supposed to be writing the TKB spin-off for World Book Day (TKB: Road Trip), at the same time. I set aside TKB: Road Trip and just worked through the proof reads, getting those out of the way before going back to it, since that deadline was more urgent. In September, I was supposed to have been editing my next adult book. I was then told that my editor would like the first draft of my next YA book early October (and I’d barely even started it yet). I pushed the October deadline to mid-November, and focused only on the edits for the adult book before switching over to the first draft.

I like the practise of grouping similar activities. Admin tasks like sending emails – I’d rather do them all together than one or two at a time. Housework and laundry – all at once, or not at all. That attitude extends to my books, too. Edits? Do it all now, or not at all. I think I’d be pretty useless if I constantly instead tried to edit half a book, write a few chapters of a new one, then edit some more, then write again…

5. Tracking goals and having a to-do list

I mentioned my beloved to do list app, ToDoist, and how it helps me organise my time and everything that needs doing – but I also like to use it to set myself some goals. ‘Tuesday – edit to page 100. Wednesday – edit to page 120. Thursday – edit to page 180.’ It’s a really handy way to keep myself on track and motivated (and I guess goes back to the whole ‘setting myself deadlines’.

I also have a monthly list of goals, which are a bit broader (more like, ‘Work on first draft of this book’) which I find really helpful, and I mark any deadlines in my diary so I can’t miss them. When I’m working on so many different projects and with so many different deadlines, I’d probably forget most of them if I didn’t keep track somewhere.

6. Rereading and leaving myself notes for Future Me

As soon as I open a book I’m working on, I will reread the last chapter – or at least, the last part of it – just to remind myself where I am, what the tone is. Trello is great, but rereading at least a few paragraphs helps me get back into the feel of the book. And I’ve also started leaving myself notes when I close a project – for instance, if I’m writing (as opposed to editing) and plan to stop at the end of the chapter, I leave myself a line or two to remind Future Me what I wanted to happen next. ‘Characters A and B talk about that thing, B meets C for breakfast, A is freaking out about a situation.’ It’s proven to be a huge help, and makes it a lot quicker for me to get back into a project when I pick it back up.

And, of course, it helps a lot that the books are ones I’m passionate about and enjoy working on! (I kind of loathe editing, but after having to do it on and off all year for so many different books, I’m getting used to it now – if not always ‘enjoying’ it!)

Looking forward through 2020, I think there are only (‘only’) five books I plan to work on. It was four, until I added that extra book recently, which I'll finish writing early this year, too. I have to admit, I felt a bit lost when I counted them up. Five seemed so few, compared to this year.

But that comes back to knowing how I work – and I know I work best when I’ve got a lot going on and I’m keeping myself busy. So who knows – maybe by the time next December rolls around, I’ll be talking about the nine or ten or eleven books I’ve ended up working on in 2020!

What are your top tips for juggling different writing projects? Share in the comments, or let me know on Twitter @Reekles.

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