I was never one of those people who could read multiple books at once. I read a lot of books as a kid. (A LOT.) I still read a lot of books. My current tally for 2013 is 63 books. But I have always preferred to read them one at a time. I’d rather race through a book in a day and move on to the next one the next morning than try to switch back and forth.
I’ve recently learned that I’m pretty much the same way about writing. Up until the past month, I’ve never attempted to work on two books at the same time. I had THE CREATION OF HALLELUJAH CALHOUN dancing around in my brain while making revisions on the first novel I wrote, WINK, but I didn’t start first-drafting HALLELUJAH until WINK was done and being queried to literary agents. I devoted almost a year to writing and revising HALLELUJAH alone. This book filled my thoughts.
But since mid-July, I’ve been trying to pull double-duty. I’ve been thinking about revisions on HALLELUJAH, anticipating my editor’s notes and the things we’ve already discussed changing or tweaking. Meanwhile, I’ve been fleshing out the first draft of my new, as-yet-untitled YA novel. And it’s hard. I feel a little bit like the characters are all crying out for attention in my brain at the same time. While reading over HALLELUJAH last week and making notes to myself in that document, I did an interview and some brainstorming for the new book. When I sat down to sketch out some scenes for the new book, all I could think about was how I’m going to rework the beginning of HALLELUJAH.
I’ve been thinking a lot about moving forward into what I hope will be a career writing books (if I’m very lucky!), and I’m betting that this multi-tasking, multiple-projects-at-once thing is a skill I’m going to have to hone. After all, if I wait until one book is completely done before ever starting something new, the time between books could really stretch out (not to mention the lulls while my agent, editor, and/or beta readers are reading a draft!). So I figured I’d crowd-source a bit. Get your opinions/advice/experiences.
As a reader, do you read more than one book at a time? As a writer, do you work on multiple projects at once? Why do you like doing this? How do you keep things straight and devote your full attention to each thing while it’s in front of you?
I’d love to hear any thoughts you have, readers! I’m diving into serious revisions of HALLELUJAH as of today, but I know this will be something that will keep coming up in the years to come. 🙂