Posted by: Kathy Temean | June 17, 2015

The Balancing Act

erikaphoto-45Erika Wassall here, The Jersey Farm Scribe with…

I have to Focus on ONE… for now.

As writers, I don’t think it’s uncommon, or unhealthy, to have multiple concepts, goals, projects or stories that we are working on at one time. It’s a balancing act in more ways than one!

Over the past few months I’ve had these two ideas percolating in my brain. They are both full-length novels, which is new and exciting for me. But they are COMPLETELY different books. One is a YA. For this one I have very specific plot lines and tangible goals. This one is much more developed. It’s an intense, exciting story that I’ve dreamed about and feel a connection to on an incredibly deep level.

Then I have this other one. It’s a bit more vague in my mind as to how it will be laid out. I believe it will end up as a Woman’s Studies/Issues novel. It has many intimately personal connections to my life as well.

I’m excited about them both. And quite frankly, confident that I will write both of them someday.

There are a lot of positives for me when I have multiple projects at once. It’s a way to clear my mind while still taking the time to write. Take a break from one idea and come back with fresh eyes. Sometimes I’ll do silly things like write about characters from different manuscripts meeting up, just to play with character development and get to know the characters.

Multiple projects? No problem! 

Umm…. usually.

BUT, most of the time there is one that is naturally getting the majority of my attention. I’ve never had to DECIDE which one that is. It just happens.

Not this time.

I’m all over the board. One day I’m lost in a world of YA plot lines and dreaming of climatic moments and long walks spent with my main character. And the next, I’m feeling an almost tribal connection to this adult novel.

While this is all somewhat exciting, the fact is, I’m not actually GETTING anywhere with either of them.

For me, it’s time to pick one.

Not that I’ll completely stop writing or thinking about the other. But I have to prioritize one over the other. In order to give it the best shot, something needs to be my main focus.

Now…. how the heck do I pick?

I tried all kinds of things. Here are the three that were the most helpful for me:

Talk it Out

Which idea can I talk about longer? I would literally talk to my dogs or just out loud to myself on a walk. While both ideas have meat I can chat about, there was a clear winner. The YA. The concept quite literally takes off running once I get into it. I get swept away.


Which am I More Prepared to Write?

My two ideas are really two completely separate genres. And to be honest, I don’t know that much about the Women’s Issues/Studies genre. Five years ago, I wouldn’t have thought that mattered much. And while I would never throw away an idea just for that reason, I definitely now know that it does make a difference.


The Red Dress

At a formal event, nothing stands out more in a sea of black, gray and off-white, than a bright red dress! And don’t we all want our manuscripts to be the red dress at the ball? I know I do.

This one was tricky for me. Which idea stands out as the most different? To do this one right, took research. Going in, I strongly thought, oh my adult novel is by FAR more unique. I don’t know of ANY books about that.

In fact, it’s part of why I was concentrating on this, as I saw that the others were consistently pulling the YA vote and I wanted to mix it up.

However… I apparently forgot that I don’t know of every book that was ever published.

Of course, there are books on the topic. While I still think it’s not covered enough in literature, it’s not like I’m opening up a new concept here.

And in fact, after further research, I actually think my YA would stand out more in a crowd.


So what now? Well, to be honest, even though the votes are in, it’s pretty obvious, and I’m actually really excited about the decision, on the other hand, I’m still struggling to admit that it’s time to move the other idea on the back burner, for now.

But while it’s also certainly a blessing, too many ideas vying for attention can be a hindrance to my writing process. The only way I’ll ever be able to someday give them a chance to be real, living, breathing stories, is to take one and run with it.

And really, BOTH of the manuscripts are worth it.


Erika Wassall is a writer, a farmer and a liver of life. She is a member of SCBWI and a proud Mad Scientist, bringing science experiments right into children’s classrooms, and hearts. She has a small farm in New Jersey with sheep, chickens, pigs and vegetables. Check out her new website at where as a first generation farmer, she often takes the long way, learning the tricks of the trade on The Farm. On her website is also The Shop page with tips and a free Q/A from her husband’s mechanic shop, and The Writer page where she shares stories, experiences and characters from the heart. Follow her on Twitter at @NJFarmScribe. She’d love to hear from you!

Thank you Erika for another great post. I always enjoy them.

Talk tomorrow,




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