Someone asked me the other day (meaning a day that wasn't today) about having four mystery series going at more or less the same time. And I'll admit that as a concept that sounds pretty impressive. "How do you do that?" she asked.
I like to answer such questions honestly, and I did that time as well. "It's really not that hard," I told her.
Because when you look at it the right way, it's not.
The business of writing four 80,000-word (give or take) books a year is a question of organization and simple arithmetic. If you write 1,000 words a day and take no days off, you'll have a book in about 80 days. Fileas Fogg made it around the world in that much time, but it probably took Jules Verne longer to write that one. That means that you have about 10 days to revise and rest up before starting the next one. Four books a year, and you even get an extra five days off along the way. Six in a leap year. (Not the only reason to hope 2020 gets here in a hurry.)
Well, that sounds like a lot of work. And it is, if writing 1,000 words a day takes you all day, but it shouldn't. Assuming you have a general idea of what you're doing just for that day (3-4 pages double spaced), even with the requisite moments when something stumps you for a bit, you should still have time to go to your day job if you have one, see the spouse and kids for a while, maybe even watch a little TV or read a book that somebody else wrote.
Today (that being the day I wrote this and not today), I graded a number of student papers, watched a full-length movie with my wife, bought a holiday present for a loved one (admittedly online) watched a 90-minute concert online--you should check out the shows Circe Link and Christian Nesmith do from their home once a month--played a little guitar to clear my head, listened to a quiz show on the radio.
And oh yeah, I wrote 1,000 words.
The trick is to stop mystifying the process. Stop thinking of writing as a spiritual journey taken with a magical muse on your shoulder that must be indulged with rituals and processes, that can be stopped by a mythical disease called "Writer's Block," that happens only when the stars are properly aligned.
Writing is a creative endeavor, certainly. We make a story where none existed before. But writing is really a job, and when it's treated like one, it can happen quickly and efficiently. Whether or not that decreases the quality of the product is for better minds than mine to determine. I think I do all right.
It doesn't hurt to have a really good agent who can sell four series. That's key, and a deadline certainly provides ample motivation. So does making a living. But the trick is thinking of it as a job. Don't fret it, don't delay it, don't impose layers of artifice on it.
Just do it.
Pitchers and catchers report in 64 days.