The Pros of Cons of diversifying your workload.
December is close to over which means a new year is just around the corner. Starting in January I will be putting down the current first draft manuscript I’m writing (You can read an excerpt here) and starting the final draft of a second draft I put down four months ago. I will work on this until April, then I will put that down and start working on the second draft to the first draft I am putting down at the end of December.
Basically, I work in four-month-increments and I start a first draft to a new book every September. During any given year I am rotating three manuscripts of varied completion. I started writing full-length manuscripts in 2019 and this has been the only method of practice I’ve engaged in thus far.
Why do I do this, you ask?
At this point in my writing journey I am improving at an accelerated rate due to fervent reading and vocabulary building. So instead of putting out a book in a year, I divide that year into three sets of four months so I can return to my work over a longer period of time and implement all the techniques that I have picked up in that span. My writing will surely be of greater quality two years from now than it will be one year from now, and so I want to bestow that benefit on all my projects, even if that means they take longer to submit for publication.
It also helps with story fatigue.
After working on a project for long periods of time, thoughts can become murky and jostled together, resentment for the story or the time it has claimed from your life can fester, and a feeling of overall hopelessness can swallow you up into a tar black void which has a compacting gravitational force powerful enough to crush all of the hopes and dreams that had you starting the manuscript in the first place. Working in four month increments keeps things from becoming stagnant. The time away from the story lets the mind rest easy and when you come back to it four months later you are refreshed and actually looking forward to continuing the work.
Also, while I write in these four-month-increments, I am constantly skimming my recently completed manuscript for opportunities to polish or tighten. This could also mean sending out to beta readers or editors or even just your family and friends. Getting feedback helps you establish a broader perspective of who your book is for, which will help you when your making your pitch to agents or publishers.
All in all, this means that it is usually three years before a project of mine is ready to be submitted. But I hope it also means I am sending out much more polished and prepared work that will have a better shot at ending up on bookstore bookshelves
After all, that is the endgame, is it not?