Two Projects at Once by Raina Schell

Let’s welcome back monthly columnist Raina Schell as she shares with us “Two Projects at Once.” Enjoy!


Are you trying to edit one novel while writing another? This is what many writers find themselves having to do.

Maybe you recently finished a novel, during NaNo perhaps. Or you wrote one awhile back and shelved it. Regardless, unless you edit that manuscript several times over it won’t be ready for prime time.

However, you now have a brilliant idea for your next concept. You can’t wait to start it. Perhaps you’ve outlined it or if you’re a pantster maybe it’s been niggling at the back of your brain for days, weeks, months or even years. You’re rearing to go and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t start it, so you do.

Is there anything wrong with this picture? Not unless you want to publish which includes either self publishing or traditional. For either you have to have a finished product.

I would never claim to be an expert in this area but my limited experience has painted me into this exact position. I’ve finished three novels and am in the middle of my fourth. One problem is that I chose to write series as opposed to single title. I have started three separate series. Deciding to edit book three while continuing to write book four seemed like the best plan.

Originally I planned to devote one hour per day to each.  That hasn’t worked out. I’m currently managing one morning per week where I split my time between the two. I edit for as long as I can, usually one scene and then I try to write on the next manuscript, usually one scene.

I do have productivity ideas in case you find yourself in a similar boat – remember this is for tackling two projects at once.

  1. Time: put aside a specific time each day (1/2 an hour, 1 hour, 2 hours…) whatever works for you to edit. Then spend the same amount of time to write.

OR if you’re a *sprint writer put aside 1-2 days a week and write or edit (or both) for 5 hours (or a chunk of time).

  1. Day: write one day for a specific amount of time and edit the next day, switch off between writing and editing every other day.
  2. Scene: work on one scene at a time both for editing and writing, each day or sprinting one day a week.

Whatever method you choose and I’m sure there are others I’m not considering, give yourself a deadline. A deadline can ensure you finish your work. You can choose to work with a time deadline, a word count deadline, a scene deadline or a finish deadline.person editing

  • A time deadline = I will have (one scene, one chapter…) finished by the end of the hour, day, week or month.
  • A word count deadline = I will write/edit 1,000 words a day or 5,000 per week.
  • A scene deadline = I will finish (write or edit) one scene each day or 5 scenes a week.
  • A finish deadline = I will have the first draft of my book written by (date). I will have the second draft of my book edited by (date).

With a finish deadline you’ll want to work backwards to see how much you have to edit or write per day or per week to achieve your goal.

*I tried to find a good definition of *sprint writing on google but came up short. Basically it’s sitting down for a specific (predetermined) amount of time and just writing. No internet surfing or looking up facts or researching or checking facebook or answering the phone – which, quite frankly, is how you should be writing anyway. The difference between deciding to sit down for an hour to write or sprinting is the length of time you do it for. People will disagree with me and say you can sprint write for 5 minutes but in my opinion it’s for a minimum of few hours and a maximum of the entire day. Many people burn out after an hour or two which is why sprinting is great for when you’re working on two projects at once. You can spend an hour on one project, switch to the next and then switch back to the first again. I know some writers who work best when they have an entire day to write and others who can only write for an hour each day. You have to figure out what works best for you and then, just do it.



Raina SchellRaina Schell is a vagabond. She lives where the tide takes her. The only constant in her life is her trusty laptop. She doesn’t live in a tidy little house. Her dreams aren’t surrounded by a white picket fence. She has no family but spends her free time with a black and white bunny rabbit named Fred.
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