Getting Back in the Saddle of an Old Project

I knew few writers that only have one project in the works. Even technical writers and business writers often have multiple projects going at once, sometimes not even in the same genre.

So how do we writers bounce from project to project so effectively?

We don’t, or at least I don’t.

However, most of the time, life requires I work on different projects. Each time I switch from one project or go back to a project I have not touched in a while, like a long-forgotten about novel. I take time to get to know the project. Depending on the project, I might not have time to read everything already written. Luckily, I am a plotting a note-taking junkie.

Most writers that frequent the internet have seen the life-long debate of plotting vs. pants writing. Pants meaning to write by the seat of your pants aka without preparation aka free-flow writing. What the internet seems to imply is that a writer must do one or the other; however, I think most successful writers do a combination of both.


Feel inspired to just write?

Do it.


Feel like pondering the what ifs and planning your world?

Do it.


Once upon a time, I was a pants writer. I still do write pants style occasionally, when a muse slaps me across some inappropriate body part. Letting words just flow onto a page or document is often therapeutic and cleansing. It can often help you push through a difficult place in your story without worrying about anything being good or not.

Good can be made in Writing

Great is made in Editing

However, when I started bouncing from project to project, I started needing to take notes after my writing sessions to remind me what I had written and helping me get back into the mindset of the piece. Even if I was bouncing from a personal novel to editing another person’s work, I needed something to help me get back on the metaphoric writing unicorn. When doing non-fiction work, it is especially important to take notes. As a working writer, your time is your paycheck. You need a system to get you back to working speed, without wondering what the hell you were thinking.

Now, pants writing or not, I have a document separate from the piece that has notes on the piece, chapter by chapter or section by section. Basic information such as setting, mood, story progression, ideas, research, and sometimes conclusions are set down in short bullet points. If I am stopping the piece in a particularly action-filled or emotion-filled portion, I take notes on what I had in mind for the future. This helps me understand where my mindset was during the writing session.

Even if I have plotted and planned the entire piece, I still take notes. Even my most meticulously planned novel will veer from its original plan. My notes also help me see the changes that are taking place, for better or for worse.

Future me always appreciates past me taking a little extra time to help get things started.

How do you ensure a smooth transition between your projects?


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