Keeping Track of Multiple WIPs

Imagine this, you are super focused on the project in front of you, writing away creating a fabulous world and situations for your characters and then BOOM!, there is another idea, creeping into your mind, poisoning your current work in progress. Your writing slows, descriptions become generic, your characters are stuck because they don’t know what they are doing next.


This morning during my scheduled writing time I found myself switching over from my Fall of the Dawn draft to a random story idea that came to me a while back. Sure enough it did already have a Scrivener file, last save date was in June of 2016 and it was nothing more than a page of notes. I haven’t even thought about it since then. And, I’m not sure why it all of a sudden felt the need to crowd my mind this morning. (I was on a roll with Fall of the Dawn.)

The pain is real at this point.

I tried for a good few minutes to get my head back to my original work in progress, but I just couldn’t let go of this futuristic world that was holding my brain power hostage.

What did I do? I succumbed to the nagging story. I allowed myself some time to read what I had and add some more notes, created a couple simple character profiles, and gave some places names and basic descriptions.

And that was that. The world of 2537 left me alone. At least for the time being.

I’m not going lie here, I can’t tell you how many actual WIPs I have right now. These actually have some substance to them. Not to mention the story ideas I have, like 2537 I mentioned above.

I see some form of this question asked often, What do I do when I have a new idea nagging at me, but I already have one project I’m working on?

I usually see two popular answers or suggestions if you prefer.

1 Write down the thought quickly and get back to your WIP so you don’t lose traction.


2 Work on the one that you have more passion for. Shelve the other one, but don’t go back and forth. Pick one.

I’ve even seen people saying to ignore it. But I think that is an absolutely horrible idea. What if that idea is the IDEA?


I do have a couple finished drafts, mostly first drafts, but I do have one second draft and one third draft as well. I prefer to cycle my writing process. So, technically I have multiple WIPs, just at different stages of completion. Sometimes I do wish I had powered through the first WIP I finished a draft for, there would be no reason I wouldn’t have published it already. But, once I do begin publishing my fiction works, I will be able to publish more often because I already have others in line to go out rather than having to go through the entire process with the next one.

I do know some people who can keep their focus on one project. To take that note and quickly move back to their real project at that moment.

I am not one of those people.

I can be impulsive and I change my mind whenever I feel like it.

I am the most passionate about my Old Dawn New Dusk series, Dawn of the Night was originally the first book in the series, but while I was working on the third draft for that,  I realized it needed to be the second book. Which is why I’m now working on Fall of the Dawn. And I’ve put myself into a predicament, I booked myself a slot under the Chicago Writer’s Associations tent at the Chicago Tribunes Printer Row event this June. I’m still working on Fall of the Dawn, and had to alter my schedule to make sure I have something sitting on that table in front of me during my four hour time slot.

To help keep me on track and allow me to see where I’m sitting in the production process, I use a production planner. It is simple, and does not include every step in the process, I use a far more in depth production planner to keep track of every little step and task. The problem with using that for the day to day scheduling, is that it is too much to look at. it can be overwhelming.

Instead this planner is two pages, I can pin it to my bulletin board, and it contains enough information to help me plan out my schedule on the monthly, weekly, and daily. Get your copy here. Production annual planner

I always write with pencil, because, well, things happen, and things need to change at times. There is not a place for outlining or brainstorming because my first drafts are basically my outline.

You can include anything on here really, not just books, but articles, interviews, workbooks, or whatever else you’re creating.

Tips for Using:

  • Write in Pencil, as I mentioned above, I always use a pencil for this and even when I transfer the information into my monthly calendar for future months. (When I get to that month, I re-write it in pen while solidifying my schedule.)
  • I give each story title or working title a short version or initials to use, the boxes are quite small.
  • When writing in the dates for beginning and end I write the date with a circled B for begin or D for due following the date
  • When planning out your schedule, start with one story, take it from the first draft to the on sale date before starting to schedule in another.
  • You may find it easier to chose an on sale date and work backwards.
  • Be optimistic but also realistic. Don’t try to schedule out more than you can honestly handle.
  • Don’t forget to consider other events, holidays or activities
  • Keep your production planner somewhere you will see it

Here is my 2018 Production Planner (When you download your copy, save it, or print a few copies. I have 2018-2022 written out.)

Now, just having all this written down, doesn’t mean a new story seed, or a growing one for another WIP, won’t start bugging and nagging you while your focus is elsewhere. But, I have found that it is so much easier to stay focused on getting something done, when I can look over and see the due dates looming. It also seems to help when I can see when that other story will get to be the main focus. I can then jot down the notes and ideas that popped into my head and move on.

I do also keep project folders for each viable story idea. The moment I have a relatively decent idea that it could really go somewhere I do create a Scrivener file and a physical file. (You can get some of these at any office supply store and even on Amazon.)These files are expandable, so they are great for keeping sticky notes or other small scraps of paper without them falling out the sides. Behind the project file folder is my project folder that I have multiple printable forms in that I created to take the book through the publication and marketing portions. My next post will actually be about that folder and I’ll have a bunch more free downloads for you. These are perfect if you plan to self-publish or if you started your own imprint to publish under. I’ll also be sharing the main resources I used to create those forms and documents.

I do hope the production planner helps you as it has helped me. As always let me know if you have any questions or comments.



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