June 26, 2012

Welcome Guest Blogger J Corti-Petska


Writing two books (or more) at the Same Time

Women were created with the ability to multitask: birthing and caring for children; having a job, sometimes two, outside the home; chauffeuring; being a maid to keep her house clean, keeping the laundry fresh and meals cooked; gardening to make sure her exterior home looks beautiful, as well as the many other areas women have in their lives. I’ve handled all of the above simultaneously—in my twenties. I’ll be 60 in five days, and I now find it extremely difficult to multitask. Especially when it comes to writing.

To be truthful, writing was the one area in which I have never been able to multitask. For whatever reason, I could write only one story at a time. I couldn’t even think about the plot for a different story while writing my WIP. I have tried but failed miserably. Actually, it was often quite humorous.

For those who write contemporary, it may not be as difficult. But I don’t know because I write historicals. I tried writing a historical western while working on a medieval once. It was like balancing and twirling fine china plates on the tip of wobbly poles. Only one survived.

Writing westerns is vastly different than writing medievals—cowboys and knights—how dissimilar can you get? While the basic structure of a romance is the same, culture, attitude and speech cannot compare. About 25 years ago, I had written a few books with a co-author. Because we collaborated on westerns, I decided to work on a medieval that I’d been making notes on for months. We’d take turns writing chapters: I’d write the odd-numbered chapters, she’d write the even-numbered ones. The next book, we switched so we each had the opportunity to write the very first chapter.

One day, my friend called and asked why our 1870s cowboy hero was challenged to a duel—with a broadsword worthy of a hearty knight. Strange, I thought, but soon it faded from my memory. Then a few days later, she called again and questioned the reason I changed syntax. Hmmm… I reread what I’d written and sure enough, I had done just that. It wasn’t until I returned to my medieval that I realized what had happened.

For one thing, a knight doesn’t say, “Howdy, ma’am.” I kid you not. It jumped off the page and smacked me in my face when I went back to edit the chapter. Little nuances of historical westerns had begun creeping up in my medieval. I’d find my characters speaking with a southern drawl. My western characters began to speak quite stiffly. But when I outfitted my knight in denims, I knew I had to make a choice.

To this day, I can’t even think about another story other than the one I’m working on or I’ll lose the momentum in my WIP. Of course, these days, if I have more than one idea floating around in my head, it’s like a cowboy riding his destrier into a stampede. (Yes, I said destrier.) I carry a small spiral-bound notebook wherever I go so I can jot down the ideas popping up in my head. I don’t think on them too long, at least not until I’m ready to write the story based on a particular idea. I’d blame it on aging, but you already know that for the last 40 years, multitasking when writing has not been a waltz around the dance floor for me.

One story at a time, I continually remind myself. Otherwise, I’d never accomplish finishing a single book. I’m curious. How many writers out there can write two (or more) books simultaneously? Uh…would you mind sharing your secret?



DANTE’S FLAME, book 3 of my Italian medieval series (release date July 11, 2012)

Alessandra Podesta writes illicit tales unsuitable for a young lady. Exasperated, her father sends her to visit relatives in Naples to curb her wild imagination. But in her undying need for adventure, she toys with the affections of her tutor and is forced to marry him. When she unknowingly falls into a dangerous game of supremacy between two countries, she trusts the wrong people and endangers her life.

French tutor Dante Santangelo is secretly aiding the French in maintaining their rule over Naples. When he is manipulated into marrying the visiting cousin of the Valente Family, he seizes upon the perfect opportunity to infiltrate the family, who are under suspicion of helping the Spanish. When Alessandra's life is in jeopardy Dante must choose between love and duty. Will he offer up his life to save Alessandra? Or remain duty-bound to the French?

BUY LINK



22 comments:

Nancy Jardine said...

That's definitely a good thing to point out-the skill of keeping characters separate in your mind. I'm at the stage where I'm now marketing more than one book, and getting 'the bits' right is almost as challenging as remembering who is who in my novels.Good wishes for everything going perfectly!

LaVerne Clark said...

Oh, this was a good post! It made me smile. I'd love to read a knight who says, 'howdy'. It sounds like your cowboy was trying to do a bit of time-travel - not content to stay in his own genre! :)

I'm a one-at-a-time girl too, but I'd certainly love to be one who could write on different stories at once! Congrats on having another fantastic read out in the big, wide world. It looks beautiful!

Jannine said...

Nancy, I suppose it's the same with marketing. I have a hard time keeping the information on various books straight. It seems they're becoming a blurred line.

Thanks for commenting.

Jannine said...

LaVerne, lol, I never thought of my characters trying to do time-travel!

Glad you liked my post. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

D'Ann said...

Maybe it's because I do write contemporaries, but I write 2-3 and sometimes more stories at a time. If I get bored or lost, I change stories for awhile. Never had trouble yet!

Paul McDermott said...

Janine, Multi-tssking is NOT a female prerogative! I promise you, there are LOTS of well-organised, housetrained blokes out here - single, married, widowed and divorced! - who keep house AND manage to write every day! :)
One thing I learnt early in my "Defence against the Dark Arts" studies [aka How to prevent the dreaded Writer's Block] was "Never Paint Yourself into a Corner"
My solution is simple. I will NEVER have less than 5 or 6 pans bubbling on the stove at any given time. If I find myself struggling to put words on paper, I leave THAT project on the back burner and concentrate my efforts on something else until my muse returns from holiday/weekend bender/sulk/other reason for being AWOL.
As I write, I'm struggling with what I feel will probably be the final chapter [Ch. 26] of a disaster novel. When I post this, I shall therefore switch to one of my 'other' projects. I have a choice of genre: a childrens' story, a contemporary romance, a political thriller, a magic & mystery yarn, two (different period) historical stories, and a contemp setting "survival" yarn which came to me in a "Road to Damascus" vision last night and hasn't really taken shape yet ...
I can't imagine restricting myself to ONE book at a time! But having a range of different Genre definitely helps!

Regan said...

Hi, Janine. I write historicals and I mostly write one book at a time but then scenes come to me at odd hours on the one book I'm not working on and I have to capture them. So I guess I am a hybrid of sorts. But I do know what you mean about different time periods. That one is tough!

Regan

Carole St-Laurent said...

I'd love to write more than one story at a time, too, but I'd stick to the same genre. I have characters who crosses stories, so I think it would work for me. But I'm actually too busy with one story, let alone two!

Vonnie Davis said...

Great post, Jannine. I usually have 2 or 3 stories in various stages at a time. When I hit a wall on one, I switch onto anothe while my subconscious picks and plots through the wall. Usually, I'm switching every week or so. This time I'm coming back to my main WIP after taking time off to write a novella. Now, to get back into it I have to read from chapter one so I can refreash my memory on everything that's happened so far. Maybe I stayed away from Simone and Derrek too long. Yikes!

Ella Quinn said...

I write historicals, and though I've not tried writing two at one time, I have tried editing one and writing another. The problem is that butlers end up at the wrong houses and my hero's name get confused.

E said...

While I try to write one book at a time many of my great ideas come up when I am writing so I always take a few minutes to write it down and then continue writing.

Jannine said...

D'Ann, that's wonderful that you can write more than one story at a time. I so envy the writers who can do that.

Thanks for coming by.

Jannine said...

Paul, you're making my head spin, lol. I applaud you for writing so many genres and being able to switch from one to the other. Wouldn't it be nice to take a survey of the writers in the world to see what percentage they fall under: writing one book, two, three, or more, at the same time. I'd be very curious to know.

Thank you for commenting.

Jannine said...

Regan, I will get ideas for other stories, but other than jotting down a few notes or scenes that come into my head, I don't dwell on any particular one. Apparently, my mind has to be clutter-free from other potential stories. I wish it was clutter-free from everything else!

Thanks for stopping by.

Jannine said...

Carole, even in the same sub-genre, I can't do it. I'll get my h/h, plot, and other details mixed up. It's really sad...

Nice to see you here.

Susan Macatee said...

LOL, Jannine! I do work on several stories at once, but they're always in different stages. One might be first draft, while another is being plotted out, others many be in edits or final galley.

I write historical, but also have time travels and paranormals where the dialogue switches back and forth from Civil War era to modern day. I also write contemporary short stories for magazines. Guess I've wired my brain to focus in spurts. The main problem I did see cropping up, though, was I sometimes used character's names from another story. Fortunately, I caught it before my editor did. lol

Jannine said...

Vonnie, does it waste time to go back and read from chapter one each time you switch? That's so cool that you can do that.

Thanks.

Jannine said...

Ella, I know what you mean. The same happens to me when I'm writing one book and editing another. That's why I have to totally immerse myself in the editing before getting back to my wip.

Thanks for commenting.

Jannine said...

E:
I jot down ideas for other stories while I'm writing the current wip. But I can't stay very long or I'll sabotage my current story! But I do make notes because those snippets never seem to come back if I don't write them down.

Jannine said...

Susan, you're one of the lucky ones to be able to keep each book straight...well, except for the occasional name switch.

Thanks for stopping by.

Unknown said...

Thanks so much for the perspective. As a fledgling writer, I feel some pressure to get as many of the stories storming through my head down as possible before I run out of time and have to go back to work. But I'm going to take your advice and concentrate on one at a time. I'm sure like anytime I multitask, if I gave them all just a bit of my attention, they would all be done but none of them would be stellar!

Maryann Miller said...

This post really resonated with me. I cannot write more than one book at a time - fiction, that is. I can work on a nonfiction project and a fiction project at the same time. I also cannot read two books at the same time. My husband reads several. He has a car book that he takes in to appointments so he has something to read, another book at the table to read with breakfast and lunch, and sometimes another one on the bedside table for reading at night. Whew, I could never keep all those people and all those stories straight.