Juggling Multiple Projects

juggling writing projectsI was asked today, “How do you manage to juggle so many projects simultaneously?” It’s a good question, one that made me stop and 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 of operation 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 totally 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 in the meantime.

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’m Organized

I keep extensive notes on all my projects, so that I can easily refer back to them. Actually, that is necessary regardless of the number of projects you have. Organization is a must! I have a folder for each project, with many 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 a folder for each of these categories for every project:

  • Admin: contracts, agreements, etc.
  • Interviews: raw recordings
  • Transcriptions
  • 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 done a rough draft on their own before hiring me)
  • 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 or three days). I don’t write by the clock, but more judge when I’m finished by the work I have completed. 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 to the next project.

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:

How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Ghostwriter?

Do you need help writing a book?

Should you hire a local ghostwriter?

Working with a Ghostwriter – What steps should you take?

 

Laura Sherman (87 Posts)

Laura Sherman, a.k.a. “Laura the Friendly Ghostwriter,” is a professional ghostwriter and author. She enjoys writing fiction and nonfiction and is happiest when juggling multiple projects. She recently authored “Chess Is Child’s Play” to introduce the next generation to the game of kings and queens. As a parent of three, and one of the top 50 women chess players in the United States, Laura wrote this book to teach any parent to teach any child, of any age, to play chess.


12 Responses to Juggling Multiple Projects

  • Jenny says:

    Organization is soooo key. Numero uno.

    Something else I think is important: knowing your own limitations. There’s a big difference between ‘handling’ projects and creating projects that every party is satisfied with. Some people are fully capable of handling fifteen projects, and the kid’s soccer tournamet, and the other kid’s dance recital all in the space of a week. And others know that two projects can demand all their effort. If you’re a fifteen-projecter, great. If you’re a two-fer, awesome. Just don’t push over your own edge or the work will start to suffer.

    • Laura says:

      I completely agree. And some people really only want to work on one project at a time!

      I sometimes help other writers get writing projects. I like to really talk to the person and get a good feel for what they’re comfortable doing. In the end, I would be responsible if they fall flat…

      Thanks for writing in!

  • Laura, Enjoyed your post. Very nicely done! It makes me realize how disorganized I am! Generally I try to work on one project at a time, but my thoughts betray me and I find characters from other projects barging in, blatantly making their presence known.
    Thank you for sharing your insights and expertise. I plan to reread multiple times!!

    • Laura says:

      When I have that happen, I’ll just open a new Word Doc and flood the page with ideas and then go back to what I was doing. If I don’t do that, I’ll forget it. Also, if I’m in the grocery store and come up with an idea, I’ll stop what I’m doing and jot it down. There’s nothing worse than trying to remember that brilliant idea you had for a book…

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m thrilled that I could help!

  • Tony Russo says:

    I’m a grinder. Deadlines motivate me. Since my projects can be broken into different aspects, I set aside general times of day for them. I do Gruntwork (e-mails, interviews, etc.) until, mid-morning. Creative stuff until early afternoon and logistical stuff (appointments, e-mail (again), future planning) in the late afternoon, early evening, and research at night.

    • Laura says:

      That is an interesting idea! I am a little more free form, working on things as I feel inclined to do so. I find that when one project gets unbalanced, that is where my attention goes, so it all works out.

  • Karin Mesa says:

    I’m with you Laura! Where with my first book I was consumed by one writing/illustrating project..I’m now working on Three at once. Organization is the key though. Also working on projects that you love and that are an expansion.
    Excellent post!

    • Laura says:

      Yes, Karin! I couldn’t agree more! It is important to only accept projects that you can get behind. Thank you for writing in!

    • Laura says:

      Thank you so much for writing! Organization is the key. You’re stellar at production, so I would imagine that you’re being a little modest here. :-)

    • Laura says:

      Thank you, Grant! I’ve tackled writer’s block in a different post. Would love to hear your thoughts on that article as well! Thanks for taking the time to write in!

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