Time Management

by Vijay Kumar Kerji

Hello, Glen,

In September last year, I finished the first draft of my novel (and thanks to your Novel Planning workbook). In January this year, I have started another story which may also be around 75K words.

Now, I am in dilemma as to how to proceed with editing these two and possibly start the third one on New Year eve.

Because I workshop my chapters in Critique Group, I find little time to manage the multiple tasks.

I would like you to share your experience with us. I want both the novels to be self-published soon after they are edited.

Thank you very much for your kind help,

Vijay Kumar Kerji

Answer: First, congratulations on the progress you have made.

Second, every writer has to juggle multiple projects. Some people naturally prefer to spend an hour on one project, then switch and spend an hour on another, etc. That's difficult when you're dealing with novel-length projects because you can't make a complete pass through a manuscript in one sitting.

It's even harder if you have a day job and can only devote a few hours a week to writing.

If you're the kind of person naturally who works by focusing intensely on one thing at a time for a number of weeks, you will it difficult to work on several novels at once and stay in touch with the emotional throughline of each.

It will get even worse if you self-publish because most successful self-published authors spend 80% of their time on promotion.

At the same time, having a little time away from a project, so you can look at it again later with fresh eyes, often helps you discover areas that can be improved.

I suggest you block out your time in chunks as large as feasible. In other words, spend so many weeks on writing the next manuscript, then so many weeks editing the first, etc. Try to allow enough time to finish one complete draft of a project or one complete editing pass through a manuscript before switching to a different project.

Working on several projects at once will also slow the completion of each, but as I said, sometimes having a little time off from a project helps it to be better in the long run.

Eventually you may need to adopt something like the 4-burner method. Here's how this works...

Your most important and urgent project is the front main burner. Spend 60% of your time on that. Project 2 is the second burner. Spend maybe 25% of your time on that.

The other two projects are the back burner. Spend maybe 10% of your time on one and 5% on the other.

At appropriate intervals (e.g. finishing a draft), rotate the projects around so that each one gets to be on the front main burner for a time, but none is ever completely neglected.

When a project is finished, freeing up a burner, you can take on a new project.

Best of luck.

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