I’ve been asked many times: “How many books do you work on at one time?”
My answer has always been: “One.”
This summer I’m going to change that up. I have several books under contract, and I’m going to work on four of them simultaneously. I’ve already started two of the books, and in the next couple weeks, all four will be rolling.
I don’t recommend this to someone who’s writing their first or second novel. The chances are that you will eventually have a pile of unfinished books stuffed in drawers. When the writing gets tough (which it does everyday BTW… forever) new writers are tempted to switch their attention to a new story, and if they do, somehow they never get back to the previous attempt.
So why am I trying this? I’ve written over a dozen novels and I know how to finish a novel. (In fact, one of the differences between an “author” and a “writer” is that an author finishes what he or she is working on). Writing doesn’t get easier (In fact, I think it gets harder because your standards and expectations increase). But one thing you do get better at, with experience, is keeping story lines separate in your head. This includes your various character’s voices and their Point of View within that story.
When I’m on the road, with hotels, airplanes, speaking, and meeting people, it’s all I can do to keep one book going. At home, the only thing I really have to do is find my office, sit down, and write.
I tend to “fiddle” with stories, even when I’m only working on one story. I take it out and correct a sentence, or a word here or there while I’m in the middle of doing other things like hanging out with the grandsons, or watching a movie on TV.
I’ll have four books to fiddle with over the summer and I’ll keep all of you up to date on this bold experiment as it progresses.