How to Balance Drafts and New Book Preproduction

By Johnny B. Truant

teetering stack of books

Today’s question is how do you balance writing drafts and preproduction on other books.

(If you prefer audio, you can listen to this episode on the Smarter Artist Podcast)

So, for some of you this is going to be a MOOT point because you may not work that feverishly.

There are plenty of people, maybe even the majority of people who work on books as an isolated project.

I’m going to write book one, my thriller. I’m going to come up with it, I’m going to write my preproduction, I’m going to figure out what it is I’m going to do.

I’m going to write it, I’m going to finish it, I’m going to edit it, I’m going to publish it and only then do I go oh, maybe I should write a sequel.

And if that’s the case then you don’t need to balance writing drafts with preproduction on other books. You just do the work as it comes.

Now that said, if you are going to really try to churn out some books and to be working in such a way that you need to balance writing drafts and preproduction, then what I would suggest doing, and this is of course a matter of preference and you can adjust as you want, but I like the idea of using different mental space for different times in the day.

What I mean by that is for me, first draft writing is a very different process, meaning that it uses different mental muscles than editing does.

typing on a laptopThat’s postproduction, but it is also true because a third mental muscle I would be using is for preproduction.

Because if you think about those three things, writing is just telling the story, it’s sitting down, it’s hitting keys, or dictating if you’re a dictator. That is one thing that is storytelling.
And then editing is mechanical. Editing is like well, does this work and do I want to figure this out this way, and is that comma in the wrong place, depending on the type of editing.

That’s just different. It’s more analytical. It’s more like I’m going to dissect the story and really think about it on a new level.

But then preproduction tends to be dreaming.

It tends to be like well, I’m going to come up with something, I’m going to invent something, I’m going to make new worlds, I’m going to write character profiles.

And so for that reason you can simply separate them in time of day. For me, writing time that’s my prime time, that’s when I have the best energy, is first thing in the morning, after I get my kids to school.

Try separating preproduction and story writing by time of day to keep things running.… Click To Tweet

My first writing thing, working thing, is writing my drafts.

But later in the day when I’m more tired and I just need something different, and I still want to be in that world, if I were in preproduction–which I’m not, Sean does it–then that’s when I would do it and that’s when I used to do it.

Honestly, that’s how I would handle it.

Separate it by time of day and know that your schedule is your schedule. It’s not anything that’s dictated by anybody else.

If you are the sole writer, if you are the only draft writer, then the only thing that you need to be sure about is that you have your preproduction package for the next book ready by the time you finish the first book.

So you finish it and then you kind of marinate and add in any last minute things. I was writing these beats, I was writing this story and then this happened at the end of the draft that I didn’t anticipate. So you may need to pivot a little bit and readjust.

But then you only lose a few days.

If you want to be writing every day, you can marinate on new beats while you’re writing the old ones. Just add to it as you go and then be ready to go as soon as that’s done.

Johnny B. Truant is the author of the Fat Vampire series and The Bialy Pimps, in addition to everything he has written with Sean at Realm & Sands.

Johnny and his family live in Austin, Texas (after several years of planning to move and complaining about life in northern Ohio).

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