Setting Up a Book Writing Schedule with Multiple Projects

on June 27, 2008 in Ghostwriting / Books
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One of my biggest problems in any type of writing that I do is the fact that I have an endless supply of ideas that I want to pursue. Given that there are only so many hours in a day, writing books and e-books can feel like an impossible feat.

So I'm going to kick off this blog by giving you a vague list of the book and e-book projects I'm working on, or that I plan to start working on within the next several months, and talking about the strategy I'm hoping will allow me to pursue my writing to my fullest potential.

Types of Books and E-books

I'm primarily a business writer, but also want to move into some fictional projects to let my creativity flow a bit more.

I've been (very slowly) working on a nonfiction book for probably around two years now that's related to my work. I've also fully outlined one novel, which I plan to make some changes to, but ultimately finish, and I'm in the middle of outlining a second novel now. I'll be outlining a third later this summer. It might sound like too much fiction at once, but the first novel was outlined and shelved for a few years, and the other two outlines are a part of an experiment I'm doing - testing methods from two authors claiming to teach you how to draft or outline a novel in 30 days (more about that in a later post).

On top of that, I write e-books. I published my first in late '06 I believe, and loved the experience (and of course the payout, considering it only took me a few hours to write in full). I have several e-books partially written, but my primary e-book focus will be a series I'm doing as a guide for Web writers.


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My Projects and Ideas

I'm obviously not going to go into a lot of depth about plots and characters here - partially because I want to protect the ideas until at least the rough drafts are all finished, but more because those things keep changing in this early phase.

Here is a list of what I'm currently working on:

  • Sarah - Sarah is simply the first name of my heroine in the book I'm currently outlining. I don't have a working title in progress yet, so for now it will be referred to as "Sarah's Book" or something similar. It's a fantasy horror novel. I won't go into the sub-genre. I'm not even 100% sure that I'm comfortable with that genre classification yet. I'm outlining this book as a part of an experiment, using the method detailed in First Draft in 30 Days.
  • Creative Self Promotion - This is the nonfiction book I've been working on for a while now - it simply hasn't been a priority time-wise enough for me to make a huge amount of progress lately. Most of my work on this project is still in the interview phase - reaching out to music industry contacts from previous work. To sum it up in my early "elevator speech," I suppose you could say "it's a book about what musicians can teach business executives about using creative self promotion through online marketing and PR channels and social media to turn customers into 'fans.'"
  • Web Writer's Guide to Launching a Successful Online Writing Career - This is an e-book, and will be the first in a series of e-books targeting Web writers (and tied to my blog at WebWritersGuide.com). I'm hoping to either finish it, or at least a good portion of it, this weekend. Material was written for a larger e-book previously, and I broke it down to create the series, so much of the writing is just a matter of expanding, adding examples, etc. Some of the previously-written material has also been broken off to be used in subsequent e-books in the series.

Here are the other projects I'll be starting hopefully within the next several months:

  • Fairy Tale - I don't really know how to describe this just yet beyond that basic term, so that's what I'll be referring to it as when I post updates on my progress. This is another novel, and the second that I'll be outlining while comparing the 30-day plans from two authors - in this case using Book in a Month. It's another dark story, possibly bordering on the horror genre, but I wouldn't quite call it that. It's not a traditional fairy tale. It's not really a "twisted" fairy tale. And it's not simply an updated fairy tale. It's not exactly a fairy tale at all - more of an "anti-fairytale" - so just bare with me on the labeling for now.
  • Dark Mystery - Again, there's currently no working title. This is the one that was fully outlined previously (using The Marshall Plan, which I loved working with). It's been shelved for a few years, and I plan to start revising this outline while I work on the fairy tale outline later this summer.
  • Web Writer's Guide E-books - As I already mentioned, some of the content for these is already written. I'm not going to go into them each separately. Right now the other planned e-books in the series will be The Web Writer's Guide to: Finding Online Writers' Markets, Networking Your Way to Higher Paying Freelance Writing Jobs Online, Making Money as a Professional Blogger, and Writing and Selling E-books and Reports. When those e-books are finished, I'm planning to continue the series with other titles, perhaps moving into specific types of Web writing for those more advanced in their careers.
  • Indie Black Book Series - This is a series of books I've been planning to write and self-publish for several years now (although I may release them as an e-book series or report series instead, because frankly there's a better profit margin). They will be short books on various indie music marketing and publicity issues or artist management issues (I initially worked exclusively in music PR, so it's a topic near and dear to my heart, and one where I still have a very strong built-in audience). I'm planning at least five titles in this series, and this is possibly the lowest priority project at this point in time.
  • Daughter - This is another one where what I'm calling it here probably won't make much sense until it's finished and I open up more about the content. As you may have noticed, all fiction projects previously mentioned are "dark." This will be a humourous book - I hesitate to call it nonfiction, but until I delve deeper into it, that's what I'm going to call it.
  • 3 Weeks - This will be a vignette-style piece, also on the humourous side. To be as vague as possible, it will deal with the topic of failed relationships (I know - that's isn't saying much).

There are a few other e-book projects that have been started, but they're more "permanently" shelved for now, meaning they're not something I want to start researching, outlining, or drafting within the next few months. I'll bring them up down the road if and when I decide to add them to the list of things worth pursuing.

Setting Up a Writing Schedule

So is there any way to realistically approach several long-term writing projects at once (on top of running my business, dozen or so websites, and my freelance business writing career)? I'm sure gonna try!

Right now I have three "active" projects. I think that's a good number to work with. It isn't entirely overwhelming, and gives me enough diversity that if I don't feel like working on one thing, I have other options that might appeal to me in the moment.

I'm expecting the first novel outline to be finished in early July (you can track my progress on my book marketing blog - I'll be charting progress on the second outline here instead). I'm also expecting to soon be finished with the first Web Writer's Guide e-book.

When those two projects move out of my "working list," I'll be adding the second outline (after a week or two off between them) and editing the novel outline that I completed for the dark mystery a few years back.

So that's the plan for now - stick to three if possible, and substitute one project in for another. If I find that I just can't seem to get into one of them, I can move it to the dormant list and stay productive overall by "upgrading" another project in its place.

Wish me luck! And more importantly, if you've ever had to juggle multiple book and / or e-book writing projects, please share some words of advice or war stories about how you survived.

Thanks for sharing!
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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.

She owns 3 Beat Media - a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.

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