Juggling Multiple Projects
I was asked today, “How do you manage to juggle so many projects simultaneously?” It’s a good question, one that made me think. I honestly prefer to have various projects all going at the same time, like pots bubbling on a stove. It sparks me on a creative level.
Not all writers enjoy this style though. It is important that you as a writer find the client load that works for you! Some writers like to work steadily on one project until it is done, before picking up the next project. That’s fine! There is no “right” answer here.
Personally I can’t stand downtime. Waiting has never been a strong suit of mine. Most projects have periods where you are waiting for something from the client (feedback, raw data, etc.). It can take weeks. So in that case it is wonderful to have another project to work on. Sure, I can always fill time with marketing and promotional activities. I have two books on the market right now and there is plenty to do there! I am always writing articles, blogging and running a social media campaign on top of everything else, but I prefer to do that while I am ghostwriting.
So how do I juggle multiple projects?
I keep extensive notes on all my projects, so that I can easily refer back to them. Actually that is necessarily regardless of the number of projects you have. Organization is a must! I have a folder for each project and then multiple subfolders, and sub-subfolders. It’s very detailed. One must select a filing system early on (I use Word) and compartmentalize everything. As an example I often have these folders for a project:
- Admin: contracts, agreements, etc.
- Interviews: raw recordings
- Chapters: my ongoing work on a book
- Completed drafts: I keep all versions of the book for future reference
- Research information: websites, client information, emails with data pertaining to the project
- Client’s draft: the client’s notes (sometimes they have a rough draft done)
- Pictures: photos or logos that might be used for marketing or publishing
The point is that I can grab anything I want for a project easily and quickly! This is vital when working on several projects at the same time.
I keep things balanced
I make sure to keep a balance among my writing projects. I am selective about the clients and books that I take on, so I am passionate about each and every one of them. There are none that I dislike, so I never have to “force” myself to write. That’s one of the great advantages of working for myself!
I divide up my time and work on each project for a given time period (which might span two-three days). I don’t write by the clock, but more judge when I’m finished by the work I complete. Of course that will vary depending on the stage I am on with a project. For one I might be happy with 3000 words, while another I’ll stop at 500 words, because I did research with it. I know when I’ve accomplished what I want for that time period and can move on.
Sometimes I get very engrossed in one project and in that case I’ll allow myself to continue until I get to a natural stopping point. It’s all very organic actually.
I keep in constant communication with the client
It is vital to stay in constant communication with clients. I let them know what I’m doing and ask for feedback on a regular basis. At the beginning there is a “fine-tuning” stage where I need to make sure that we are on the same page. This takes time. My job is to breathe life into my clients’ books and I want to make sure it is 100% what they want.
I have a policy of answering emails within 24 hours. I don’t always succeed, but typically I answer communications within a few hours. I want to stay on top of things and make sure I am there for my clients for the duration of the project, and beyond.
It takes time to keep this sort of communication line going, but in the end it actually saves time. If you avoid talking to your client, it is very likely that they will not be happy with the final book. However if you stay on top of their emails and phone calls, you will have a very happy client who will hire you again and again and refer their friends to you!
I’d love to hear your thoughts! Do you prefer to work on multiple projects? If so, what techniques do you use? If not, please tell us why!
Additional articles you might find helpful: