Multitasking VS Linear Production - Indie Pub It
Once upon a time, all a writer had to do was write manuscripts and send them to their editor…then roll right over into the next novel.
the handsome prince indie publishing, and just like it has revolutionized every other aspect of writing, it has also changed the way we authors work.
No, wait…you haven’t changed the way you work?
The linear production method of writing—that is; plotting a book, then writing the book, then producing the book, then publishing it, then starting the next one—is a default workflow for a lot of authors. This is something I only discovered a few days ago. I seem to have stumbled across multitasking quite naturally.
What is multitasking?
Multitasking has a bad reputation because it usually implies that you do two or more tasks at the same time.
Multitasking in the context of indie publishing is different. It is when you divide up your available time for your writing business into distinct portions and complete those tasks one at time. The “multi” comes from the many tasks you complete over a given time period, that usually involve multiple books, instead of focusing on the linear “next step” of just one book. So:
X% of your time is for writing fresh manuscript.
X% for plotting the next book.
X% for production.
X% for promotion.
…and so on.
These are the most common “tasks” indie authors face these days, but your business might have additional tasks that have to be covered somewhere in your spare time. For example, with 55+ books published and now I am writing full time, administration and bookkeeping has become a major time sink that must be addressed somewhere in my work week.
When you multitask, you don’t just work on one book at a time. You split your time up into distinct roles. For example: On the way to and from your day job you write fresh manuscript for book 2 because you can’t get on-line while in transit. At lunchtimes, you plot book 3. And in the evenings, three days a week, you work on production for book 1. The other nights of the week, you concentrate on promotion for all upcoming and published books. On the weekend, you take care of business matters.
Multitasking has several advantages over linear production:
You’re always writing fresh manuscript.
From personal experience, I know I write more if I can keep the momentum going. When I roll from one book right into the next (which is already plotted and waiting), then I don’t have that dragging-feet sensation I get when I return to writing after an absence.
You don’t linger in one phase or another.
I happen to like formatting books and getting them ready for publication. It’s the geek in me. If that was the only task on my plate for the day, I could play around in that phase for longer than it really needs to take, because I like doing it…or because I know that release and promotion is coming up, and who really likes doing promotion, anyway?
With multitasking, you avoid that sinking sensation when you’re coming up on an unloved chore. It helps if you know you only have to do it for just the next few hours, then you can jump right into plotting, or writing, instead.
You avoid fatigue.
There’s short term fatigue and a longer-term version. Short term, if you’re doing nothing but writing, especially when you’re writing full time, then your creativity is going to quickly drain. Besides, you can’t write for eight or ten hours a day for as long as it takes for a novel to be finished, because there are other tasks that simply must be taken care of during that time.
Long term fatigue is more insidious. If you’re dealing with the same characters and story for months at a time, you can tire of them (as Conan Doyle did. He was so sick of Sherlock Holmes that he killed him off after two years…to the howls of outrage from readers). If you’re writing in the same genre, or trying to complete a series one book after another, the monotony can make you stale and weaken your writing.
Better to change things up and benefit from the boost of energy the change provides.
You can find “lost” time.
Particularly for indies who are also working a day job, where you are when you have time to work on your writing may determine what you can do with that time. It can also help you recover time that might otherwise be lost. For example, I used to write fresh manuscript on the bus on the way to and from work and during my lunch breaks, and the lack of Wi-Fi access to the Internet was a bonus during those times. That left my evenings free for everything else.
You might find that you have open time in your day where you could plot the next novel with a pen and a pocket-sized notebook, for example, or by scribbling notes on your cellphone. That will free up time in your evenings when you have a desktop computer and full Internet access for production and promotion work.
How you split up your time is a matter of trial and error.
Dean Wesley Smith strongly suggests that an author spend 80% of his time writing fresh manuscript, 10% of his time on promotion and 10% of his time on business, including production.
I find this ratio doesn’t work for me. As I do all the production on my books except for the covers and the final line edit, I need more production time and I’ve already mentioned the administrivia and bookkeeping chores.
When I first started writing full time, I spent five hours in the morning on fresh manuscript, and the afternoons were reserved for everything else, including plotting the next book. Trial and error told me that there wasn’t enough time in the afternoons to cover the “everything else”, so I moved plotting to the mornings, too. So now I plot a book, then immediately start writing it, then plot the next, and so on. This seems to be working better for me.
Break your time up into ratios that you think will work for you, then experiment and see how it goes.
Tracy Cooper-Posey writes vampire romance series and hot romantic suspense. She has been nominated for five CAPAs including Favourite Author, and won the Emma Darcy Award. After a decade of legacy publishing, she switched to indie publishing has released over 55 indie titles to date. Her indie books have made her an Amazon #1 Best Selling Author and have been nominated four times for Book of the Year. Byzantine Heartbreak won the title in 2012. Faring Soul was awarded a SFR Galaxy Award in 2015. Tracy has been a national magazine editor and for a decade she taught romance writing at MacEwan University. An Australian, she lives in Edmonton, Canada with her husband, a former professional wrestler, where she moved in 1996 after meeting him on-line. Her website can be found at http://TracyCooperPosey.com.