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I’ve got two ideas for a book that have been eating at me for a while now.
Two ideas and neither will go away.
Now if both weren’t pulling at me, this wouldn’t be a problem. I would just figure out which one to work on next and go from there. But each of these ideas is both strong and compelling. One is like The Immovable Object and the other is like The Irresistible Force.
I’ve found myself struggling with which one to devote more attention to and which one to put on the backburner. As a result, both projects are placed on the backburner. No matter what technique I use to decide which one to move forward on, I just couldn’t shake the other one I’ve left behind.
So I came up with a solution.
I’m going to work on both at the same time.
At first this might sound like multi-tasking, but it isn’t. It also might sound like I’m not giving full focus to one over the other, but that is not the case. I’ve developed a strategy to make measurable progress on both over the next few months so neither of them languishes on the idea vine.
Before I share with you the strategy I’m using to make that happen, I’d like to dive deeper into why I’m working on two books at once.
Why two books at once?
Well, the first book is planned for traditional publishing. Simple as that. I think it’d work well for that purpose and I’m not willing to let it wait while I work on the other one. So I’ve got my mind set on the fact this book is designed for traditional publishing.
The second book will be self-published (or possibly distributed with a smaller imprint), perhaps even with some crowdfunding involved. The first book will take much longer to write. The second one won’t require as much time and has several other components that will make it become much more than a book.
Taking on both of these massive projects is something I’m doing also because I’m inspired by others who are moving forward with multiple big projects at once. I’m inspired by the likes of Omar Zenhom and Nicole Baldinu of Business Republic, who just launched their new podcast, The Webinar Ninja Podcast, this week to go along with everything else they’re doing.
(I’m a massive fan of what Omar and Nicole deliver on a regular basis, and they certainly have done it again with The Webinar Ninja Podcast. I’m all about effectiveness and efficiency, and this show fits the bill when it comes to showing you how to connect with your audience and deliver the goods time and time again. You can check out this stellar new show here.)
But beyond the different mandates for each book and being inspired by others tackling challenging projects in tandem, I had to figure out how to make this happen. My solution is based on two approaches :
1. Taking theming to a different level
I’ve written and spoken about my love for theming, but for these two projects I actually need to theme my weeks by week and not just by day of the week. On The NOW Year Calendar, there is a place to write weekly themes. I have decided to use those to their fullest for these two books.
I’m focusing on each book on alternating weeks to start. Since one of them is set to be proposed for traditional publishing, I need to draft up a book proposal. With that in mind, I chose that book as the one to focus on the first week. During the second week, my other book received the focus, which allowed me to map out the outline for it and organize my research to date so I can move forward with it with more clarity and focus. Then in the third week of this month (which is actually this week), the theme returned to the first book as I began to craft sample chapters and a more comprehensive outline.
At some point, the proposal will be finished and sent off to my agent. Then my I’ll simply replace the first book with something Productivityist-related during the weeks that are no longer themed. Once the need arises to start working on the first book again (which I have almost no control over), I’ll bring it back into my weekly theming plans.
2. Segmenting out my tools
I wanted to make sure that each of my tools was used in a way that allowed for laser focus, so I started to segment them out for the book-writing process.
I created notebooks in Evernote for each book. I created Scrivener projects for each book. But I didn’t just segment out my tools for writing my book, I did the same for my other tasks and projects.
I started using more specific contexts for writing so that I knew where I needed to be to work on certain writing activities. For example, when I was writing for Productivityist and other blogs that I guest post for form time to time, I created the label in Todoist called @desk.pm because I use Desk.pm for writing blog posts now. I used to write them in Scrivener, but because I want Scrivener to be purely dedicated to my books, I had to make the shift.
What’s interesting is that since I’ll be traveling for the latter part of this week to San Francisco to the Dad 2.0 Summit is that I won’t have my MacBook Pro with me to work on the first book proposal. So I’ve also created two labels in Todoist: @scrivener and @evernote. When I’m away from my MacBook Pro, my mind knows to go to Evernote to work on book stuff because Scrivener isn’t available. It’s not the most elegant solution, but it works well for me. And that’s what I need to move these projects forward on a consistent basis.
By setting up this strategy before I started these two books, I’ve set myself up to succeed. Now it’s just up to me to make sure I keep the ball rolling…or the ballpoint pen rolling in this case.
Now it’s your turn
Do you have any questions for me regarding this workflow? How do you tackle multiple massive projects at once and make measured progress? Let’s chat about it in the comments!