Friday, July 2, 2010

Spacing Manuscripts -- Like Spacing Children?

I have kid analogies in my brain all the time. Forgive me.

As I mentioned the other day, my WiP is out with its first beta reader. And already my brain is in What's-Next mode.

I'm holding back, though. I have a feeling that if I start plotting my next book, I'm going to lose motivation to work on my WiP ... and I know my WiP still needs a lot of work.

It's similar to when your baby reaches a milestone: Your six month old cuts teeth. Your one year old takes steps. Your twenty month old uses an iPhone (pictured).

You feel sadness that your baby is growing up. You may even shed nostalgic tears. And then there's that stirring, that whisper ... "Is it time for another one?"

Okay, some of you are laughing at me. You're looking at my family picture and realizing why I have so many children. Yes, I'm a baby addict. My babies are barely out of diapers (sometimes not even) and I'm popping out the next one already.

I'm the same way with my novels. During the querying process of one manuscript, I'm already half-way through the rough draft of something new.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Well, as with most life decisions there are pros and cons.

Pro: I don't get hit so hard with Query Funk. I have something new to look forward to. Rejections don't sting so much because my next book is so much better (right?).

Cons: I wonder if I give up too easily. Rationale: Okay, twenty people rejected this one. Instead of going back and revising and trying to fix some of the problems, I'll shelve it. I'm almost finished with my new WiP anyway. I'll just work on that.

Very much like child spacing. There are disadvantages to having your children all right on top of each other. I know people whose children are a year apart. Those are tough early years. Those babies who are still babies are also big siblings who have to learn to grow up pretty quickly.

But on the other hand, I know families with kids six to ten years apart. The parents are more sane, but there's something nice (albeit at times chaotic) about kids having their siblings as playmates.

The bottom line is finding the right balance for YOU. Are you the type of person to work on one novel and tirelessly query it for ten years, or are you going to shell out ten novels in the same amount of time and trust that you'll learn enough by the tenth one to make it brilliant. Or is there a happy medium?

Different methods work for different people. What's your rule-of-thumb for the timing of a new project?


  1. All i can say is that I spaced my manuscripts way farther apart than I ever spaced my children :)

  2. Such a hard one, that question. (Timing the manuscripts, not the children - I had all three of my girls in less than three years, so obviously I'm not good with baby timing!) I am somewhat new to the whole writing game, but I would have to say that querying takes time, and stopping without pursuing a decent amount of possibilities, in my mind, would be giving up too soon.

    It can be done so many different ways. I suppose it depends on how much you want it to get out there, how important it is to use the writing and completion as practice compared to how important it is for you to make it to that next stage. I am nearing the end to querying my completed MS, but only for the time being, to work on other WiP's. Eventually, I'll go back to it again, take another look, tweak it if necessary, and query again.

  3. I need it to percolate for a good while. Right now I'm in the middle of my WIP but already I'm brewing up the next one. After I'm done with this one, I'll have a one to two week cool down period.

  4. If one manuscript, novel, is rejected, off it goes again in the mail or email. Sometimes I revise a little between mailings.
    Drafts of novels are on the back burner waiting for revision while the present WIP is being written.
    There are even short stories out on submission all the time. With so many things going at once I feel I'm being productive rather than giving up if I have to put something away for awhile.

  5. I'm learning that I can really only focus on one project at a time. (Although I don't mind starting something new while one book's still in Queryland. In fact, I think that's the only way to go.)

    When I queried the last book I finished, I didn't start another right away because I had a newborn in the house (literally a newborn - I sent out my first queries about a week before I had my second baby, and my first request came while I was still in the hospital). But I'd really like to get started on something once Bob makes it to that stage.

    I'm excited to hear more about the next stage of your writing journey, Amy:)

  6. Forgot to mention that I see the writing on the wall by the 50th or 60th query. I've heard one (agented) writer say that you should never query less than 100 agents for a given project, but then another writer pointed out that of the 30 most recent success stories over at Query Tracker, the average number of queries sent was right around 40 or 50.

    Mostly, I think it just comes down to your gut. You know when you're close, but just not quite there.

  7. As soon as I send a book off, I start on my next project. That way I keep writing, honing my skill and I also don't stress quite so much about the book I've just sent in. :)

  8.! *confetti drops from the ceiling*

    The way I handle the waiting game is by digging in to my next project. When I need to make further revisions, I can always stop and do that. But I'd go crazy waiting for the rejections to pile up while sitting on my hands. Good luck!

  9. Karen & coffeelvnmom, There are definitely good things about close-together children! And you survived it!! I very much admire you. Mine are all about 2.5 years apart, and that was still hard at times ... but when I walk into a room and see them playing (nicely) together, it makes it all worth it. :)

    And everyone, thanks for your comments. It's so interesting to see how we all do things differently. The thing we all have in common, though, is not being "stuck" on one project. I think that can be a downfall -- putting all your eggs into the proverbial one basket. :) I guess the point is forward momentum, no matter what the time line looks like.

    Julie - thanks for being my blog's hundredth follower! I'm so excited. :)

  10. I definitely start writing a new WIP when I'm querying. i'm doing that now. But I tend to shelve after more over the 100 mark. This time I may query till I hit 200...ack.
    So I guess I space my novels similarly to yours! Kids too, though I stopped after three. :)

  11. I generally take a short break (1-2 weeks), then start planning the next one. Even writing, if I get that far. It is hard to go back to revision when you've got a new Shiny to look at, but I think it's part of being a writer.

    Besides which, if/when the query cycle starts to wind down, and the rejections are just overwhelming, the one thing that makes me feel better is that my new Shiny is almost done.

  12. Hello! Found your blog via the lovely KarenG. :)

    I have always been a 'one story at a time' girl, although so many times I'd shelve one, and then hare off on another idea. Recently (last five years, in fact!) I have kept with one story, determined to see it through. Now I wish I had done the same with the earlier stuff, but perhaps I just wasn't ready. :)

  13. Right now I'm watching the three of my kids making a fort out of a mattress...sigh...if all days were like this.
    But, as for writing,I'd have to say I'd be ready to start another one right away. I'm a newbie at this and I struggle with all the ideas I have in my head. So, as soon as this first draft gets written I'll be fighting the urge to start another instead of polishing it up. But first thing is first. Finish. Draft. =)