How Do I Work on Multiple Articles at the Same Time? Should I Even Try?

How Do I Work on Multiple Articles at the Same Time? Should I Even Try?

The following question was submitted by someone who attended the Hunks, Chunks, & Bites class, and is answered below her question.


Question

How do you work on four (or x number of) articles in the pipeline? I have no idea how to work on these projects either side by size or one at a time or some combination….

Answer

Some people seem to only be able to work on one writing project at a time.  Generally, that didn’t work for me until I got to a certain place (like the very, very end and was just about to send a piece off – then maybe I would focus completely on that piece).  Otherwise, I have multiple writing projects in the pipeline, usually in the following stages:

  • Vague idea only. These are incubating and about all I’m doing with those at any given time is staying aware of it and staying alert (not vigilant, however) for ideas, words, concepts, quotes, others who’ve written about it, etc. and gathering that information.  I don’t use Endnote or Evernote so mostly at this stage, I’m putting notes in a physical folder.  Sometimes, I’ll have a Dropbox folder and add things to that.
  • Early draft stages. A Word document has been created but there may be very little in it.  I may be mindmapping at this stage – but also tend to mindmap as I go on, too since I sometimes either get stuck or need to sort out the complexity that may have emerged as I was drafting.  I like having a few of these as possible places I could be working.
  • Well along in the process. I may have a couple (or more it seems) that are in this stage.  Generally, these are a lot of fun to work on because the piece has real shape and direction.  Usually, the first draft is essentially all done and some parts have already been edited and revised, although not the whole piece.  So I can feel some satisfaction that something is well written (or getting close to that) and that it will be something that I can be proud of and hopeful about.  When I was writing articles to submit to refereed journals, I knew my target – if I hadn’t already done that – and could begin to hone it for that journal.  When I was writing chapters in books or books, I would know that I was getting close.
  • Nearing the end of the process (at least, that’s the plan!) Articles or other pieces that are in this stage are getting final revisions and polishes so that they are ready to send off to a publisher or are getting ready to be published (ebooks, for example).  As satisfying as this stage is, perfectionism can be quite problematic and a deadline helps a lot because you finally just have to hit submit.  This part of the process takes so much longer than anyone ever expects.  It seems like “oh, there are just some little things that need to be done,” and all those little things take SO MUCH LONGER THAN THEY SHOULD.  Grants are notorious for this.  Book manuscripts are, too.  When things get to this stage, we almost have to clear everything else but the essentials off our plate (I remember my dissertation when it got to this stage.  I barely bathed except on the days I taught!  HA!)
  • Another stage is a waiting game, I guess you could call it. When I submitted articles or chapters or reviews or whatever while still a professor – there weren’t any guarantees even if the article or chapter was invited.  So I had to track what was happening and follow-up after an appropriate amount of time.  Since my goal as a professor was to always have four articles out for review, if one got rejected outright or was a revise & resubmit, I did my best to make a it a fast turn-around because otherwise, I could be down one or more below my goal of four out at all times.

Each person has a different way of keeping multiple projects in the pipeline – and it’s great to ask people who seem productive how they do it.  I love asking that question!


meggin_just_whelmed_calendar_v3If this answer helped you, or you have more questions, feel free to check out the webinar Creating Grace, Space, & Pace with Your Own ‘Just Whelmed’ Calendar. This friendly and focused 90-minute webinar is for those who are ready to gain a sense of control over their schedules and to-do lists.

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