How many books are you writing? I mean right now, this minute, is it one? Two maybe? I’ll bet (presuming you’re a writer of course) the number of stories that you currently have on the go is larger than you really think.
When people ask me, “What are you working on right now?”, I’ll say I’m writing book three of my series. It’s true that book is my main focus right now, but I also have a partially written erotica that I intend to work on when book three is done, a very early conceptual YA fantasy story (I have to be careful not to get mixed up when writing the YA and erotica stories at the same time, may get me into trouble). There is also a collaborative work that I’m 50% responsible for, I’m a few thousand words into a sci-fi space opera story, and several other short stories that get popped in between. When you consider that I’ve only just finished with the edit stage of book one and I’m also working with the publisher on the beginning edit stages of book two, I’m actually working on a whole bunch of stories all at once. If I count them all up that’s seven full length novels on the go.
Impressive? Unlikely. If you ask a writer to sit down and think about what they are working on I’ll bet the number of stories is higher than they first think. Ok, so I’m not actively writing bits on every story on a daily basis, but I do shift between them so it counts.
To any non-writers this might seem like a crazy prospect. How can you keep track? How can you be certain you won’t mix up worlds or characters? How do you stay sane? The answer? We just do. Writers have an uncanny ability to inhabit more than one space at the same time. Here we are sitting in reality whilst our minds are far away somewhere else with exciting things going on. That doesn’t make us detached from reality (apart from the odd occasion when we’re so engrossed that we probably wouldn’t notice if a nuclear explosion went off out the window.) We can flick from our fantasy world inside, to the fact that the cat just threw up on the carpet – go deal with the throw up and then flick straight back to another space and time without giving it a second thought.
It’s no surprise then, that we can complete this odd feat across numerous worlds, between a variety of characters and events without getting our knickers in a twist. It’s part and parcel of the skill of writing, and when you really think about it, it’s an amazing thing.