Time management for multiple projects

Clock and schedule. I firmly believe the advice that one of the best things a writer can do for her career while querying or on submission is to write another book. I’ve thrown myself wholeheartedly into a new novel while I wait to hear back from agents I’ve queried. The downside to this is that I’m not devoting much time to my polished, complete novel right now.

I’ve been sending out queries in small batches, so that I can respond to any feedback I receive and improve my chances of getting requests for pages in the next round. But lately I’m so focused on my new project that I’ve neglected to send many queries. I tell myself I’m still waiting to hear back from some agents, but some of them say “no response means no,” and if I’m being honest, I’ve just been too caught up in writing new things to get excited about queries. But I need to get excited about queries. No one will read my books if they’re never published, and they won’t be published if I don’t send out queries. (Yes, I know I could self-publish, but the reasons why that’s not the right choice for me is a topic for another post.)

So if, like me, you’re easily drawn in by the next shiny project, how do you make sure you give other projects the time they deserve? I’m making a conscious effort to carve out time to devote to queries and contests. When I’m drafting, I like to sit and write in long stretches, and I don’t want to interrupt that time with queries. Instead, I’ve decided to work on queries before I start those stretches, and use drafting as a reward for getting through the business side of writing.

Another good time to query is during get-togethers with other writers. I’m fortunate to belong to a group that meets bi-weekly at a local coffee shop. After updates on each other’s work, we usually sit around and write for at least an hour. I have a hard time writing in coffee shops — too many distractions — so this is a perfect opportunity for me to send out already-written queries, research new agents to query, and check all of the writing-related blogs I follow. The other writers will hold me accountable, and I won’t feel frustrated by unproductive (or under-productive) writing time during our gatherings.

What about you? How do you balance querying one project and working on another?

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