Is it cheating to have more than one project?

I have never been a full-time writer. I have always either been working outside of the house or, for the last two years, home-based, looking after my son.

Even as a hobby-writer, I cheat. I have several projects on the go. Usually it’s one novel and then subsidiary projects like short stories and poems.

What I like about this mix-up is that it gives me a break. A novel is quite a commitment. Donna Tartt said, when I went to hear her speak in November 2013, if she knew at the outset how long it was going to take her to complete a novel (think 10-12 years in her case) she probably wouldn’t start. It’s possible to get painted into a corner or find oneself taking numerous wrong turns in the maze of a novel. A short story can be a break from that. I can plan a short story in an hour and hammer out a first draft (of just under 1000 words) in a further hour. After that I can pick at it, edit and hone it in a more relaxed way.

What I have with flash fiction is almost-instant gratification.

I can also try new ideas and styles while only getting my feet wet – not having to immerse myself entirely in something that is experimental.

This may be cheating, I’m not sure. The experimentation definitely gives me a little boost of inspiration and enthusiasm but it might also be helping to shape me as an author. It might be making me a better writer. I certainly hope so.

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2 thoughts on “Is it cheating to have more than one project?

  1. I don’t think it’s cheating at all. In fact, I often hear from various “authorities” that a writer should feel comfortable writing in several forms, whether it be novels, short stories, essays, etc. My problem is focusing on one project and finishing it before moving on to the next. I tend to hop around and then get nothing done!

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