Non-Writers Just Don’t Understand: The brain gymnastics it takes to work on two completely different manuscripts at once

ci6co(side note: it’s kind of sad how long I spent finding the image for this meme. Time that could have been spend working on said manuscripts)

Both of my manuscripts are first person POV, with two characters each. So here’s me, trying to edit a story set in Northern Ireland with a character from Belfast like basically. Then switchin’ to a WIP set in rural Wisconsin starring a girl from a poor, white trashy background and a Latino boy. For Chrissake, it’s mental gymnastics, so it is! Crap, why do I do this to myself? This is kind of what it’s doing to my brain.

bunny-catapultยกGracias a Dios! for my Latina co-writer, who’s handling language and culture for the Wisconsin WIP, but I still have to get myself into the head of Latino boy fighting to overcome racism and all kinds of barriers to get to college. Which is a wee bit different from my Belfast paramilitary hooligan with a heart of gold.

The girls are a bit easier at least, as their brains are more in line with my own. But still, I’ve got a highly motivated, straight-laced girl who’s involved at school contrasted with an underachieving loner in an unhealthy relationship with a scrubby older guy and a meth head mother. So there’s that. At least the setting for the Wisconsin one is easy for me and fun to explore from Singapore. Though I did have to face down a few inner baddies… And slay them ๐Ÿ˜€

622788__safe_twilight+sparkle_animated_screencap_princess+twilight_magic_hub+logo_flying_angry_fightI love both my manuscripts. Life will be easier when i finally finalize Hooligans (it is SO close, I swear), and I’ll have Rafa & Rose to focus on while I query.

Have you ever found yourself working on two completely different manuscripts at once? What was that experience like?



  1. blondeusk · September 27, 2014

    I love this post ๐Ÿ™‚ We do have to perform brain gymnastics as writers – such a great phrase!


    • sjoycarlson · September 27, 2014

      Thanks!! So glad you enjoyed the post and my little catch phrase ๐Ÿ˜› happy mental gymnastics to you!


      • blondeusk · September 27, 2014

        Thx – just about to perform an amazing back flip with my plot!!


      • sjoycarlson · September 27, 2014

        LOL gold medal for you! Break a leg, but only figuratively ๐Ÿ™‚


  2. coldhandboyack · September 27, 2014

    I can’t do it. I’m a one story at a time guy. I have to write at my paycheck job. I have my blog to keep up with. One novel at a time is all I want. Add to that all the proofreading and correcting that goes with getting the old manuscripts beat into shape, and it’s enough.


    • sjoycarlson · September 28, 2014

      I’m looking forward to working on just one haha. I thought I was closer to done on one of them than I was, which is why I started the WIP. Was just about to start submitting to agents when I realized why I didn’t like one of my MCs. ….which lead to a pretty major re-write of half of the book. Haha. Anyway, happy writing, or old MS beating, whichever you’re up to!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. uturnstars · September 29, 2014

    Working on two manuscripts at once is rewarding, but mightily confusing! You’ll get through it!


  4. S. R. Carrillo · September 29, 2014

    This year is the first year I’ve ever dedicated any period of time to a single work instead of spreading myself all over a bunch of works. It’s weird. I kinda don’t like it. I work best when I can switch back and forth. It feels more productive and there’s less chance of burnout.


  5. Jon Chaisson · September 29, 2014

    Yup, doing that at this very moment. Writing a non-genre novel (I’m usually writing SF) that takes in 1994 Boston and is first person POV with a handful of secondary characters; I’m also writing a nonfiction book about listening to college radio in the 1980s. So not only am I writing two different styles, I’m in two different musical mindsets!


  6. Marcus Case · October 1, 2014

    Another great post. Thanks. But you forgot to mention your blog. Don’t you ever stop? Perhaps you were writing when you fell off that motorbike…!


    • sjoycarlson · October 2, 2014

      You know… I was probably trying to mentally record every part of driving a motorbike so I could write a scene about it when I drove off that little bridge into the ditch ๐Ÿ˜› And thanks, glad you enjoyed it!!


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