Sunday, February 20, 2011

Synergistic Writing, Anyone?

Last week I wrote about reading more than one book at a time, but what about writing more than one?  Some people do.

If you think it's a challenge to keep to books that you're reading together straight in your head, how much more difficult must it be with two stories you're creating?

I haven't tried writing two novels simultaneously, but it definitely has an appeal.  I probably wouldn't go with working on both each night, nor would I schedule alternating nights (or mornings or whatever -- I write at night), because scheduling is a sort of tyranny I despise.  No, I see simultaneous projects as a way to have an alternative when one of them has me stuck.

Other positives are a reduced risk of boredom, and chance for cross-fertilization between novels, maybe bragging rights....

The difficulties are numerous and, I think, of no significance at all.  I could get characters / plot / setting confused between the stories.  Oh, come on.  Do I get confused between multiple characters in a single novel?  Of course not.  Do I get confused between these things in my story and real life?  No again.  [If I watched television, would I get confused when watching two different multi-episode television programs over a span of a month or two?  I don't think so.]

One of the novels could fall by the wayside, and the effort I'd expended would have been wasted.  First off, I have to say that effort is never wasted.  Effort is how you learn.  Second, the novel that fell out of favor must not have been up to snuff -- otherwise why would it have fallen?  It's loss of status may not be permanent (snuffiness is relative, after all).  It may just be the right time for the other novel, and after that one is done it may be the right time for the dropped story to be picked back up and finished.

Schedule difficulties abound with writing multiple novels simultaneously, but even the worst of these is not a real problem. The simplest problem is that it takes twice as long to finish a novel because I'm working on two.  That's not a problem at all.  The worst problem, I think, is "I need to produce one book a year:  not two books every two years."  Maybe so and maybe no.  The key is to understand that the books don't have to be written in lockstep.  I don't have to start both novels the same week and end them together.  It makes more sense to start one, and roughly halfway through the writing process start the second one.

Many writers have an affinity for either writing or for editing but not for both.  I enjoy both sides, but they are very different processes, and that is why it makes sense to double-up.  Any time I sit down to work I have my choice to write one novel or to edit the other.  It should help to mix things up and keep me fresh.  On the other hand, if you have a strong dislike for editing, then the knowledge that on any given day you are guaranteed to have editing to do might be a discouraging thought.

I haven't tried writing two novels at once, but (if I could only get back into the habit of writing at all) I'd like to try.

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