Tuesday, April 12, 2022

The Value of Having Numerous Writing Projects

by Cindy K. Sproles @CindyDevoted

I hear it every conference. It’s not uncommon for conferees to ask, “How many projects do you work on at once?” The number varies, but I continually have numerous writing projects that keep me busy.

Why Have Multiple Writing Projects

The short answer. I’ve learned that it’s time to move ahead when one project is complete. The long answer is that any writer needs to have a back pocket filled with possibilities and those possibilities need to be developed enough to make sense if a publisher requests them.

It’s important to have a file ready if the current project just doesn’t work. For example. My agent recently presented an entire novel and proposal to my publisher. They liked the work but didn’t see that it was a current fit. “Does she have anything in the back pocket?” My agent was happy to present them a second project “idea” that the publisher contracted. Are you seeing the importance of working on more than one idea at a time? 

The next idea is there. It may not be completed, but there is enough that the publisher gets a strong idea about the project. Back pocket work is valuable, and every writer needs several.

Even if your back-pocket projects are uncompleted, you still have a nice synopsis and three chapters that you can present when asked. A proposal is not necessarily crucial at this point because publishers are simply looking at a style twist they like and if there is a project that can develop into a work that fits their needs. 

I frequently see writers with one completed project who continue to pitch that same manuscript yearly. I know what they are bringing before they sit down. There is a time when an author accepts they have done their best on the project and moves ahead. Stop spinning their wheels. It doesn’t mean you give up on the project, but you lay it to the side and begin a new project while you wait for the opportunity for the first one. 

As the song says, let it goooooo! Start project two. You’ve learned to write even better in project two, and maybe that story will land you an agent. That agent will ask you if you have any back pocket ideas. The why goes back up to paragraph three. Project two may be great, but it doesn’t fit the publisher’s needs. Still, they love your writing and your twist on things – it’s fresh and unique, so do you have any other projects? It would be a grave disappointment to have your agent say no to the publisher. When you hear conference teachers, agents and publishers talk about moving ahead, understand this is why. 

Work on your main project to completion, but along the way, entertain those new ideas spurred as you work. Take a day to write one to three chapters while the idea is fresh in your mind. Put a brief synopsis together that describes the plotline brewing. Name the characters so that you will remember. Title it. Save it in your back pocket file. Take a break from project one and let it percolate from time to time. Work on a back pocket chapter or even a new idea in the interim. Build that reserve. Too often we have an idea that slips into la-la land because we don’t give it enough respect into developing it, so it’s useable.

Bottom Line
When you develop back pocket projects, you are expanding your writing career. It may not be a novel or a non-fiction book, but it may be an article or a children’s story idea. Give it life and allow it to brew. 

It’s easy to write one work and then get hung on just that one, never making an effort to move ahead. I’ve heard, “God told me to write this” a zillion times. And though I never doubt that God has placed that story in your heart, it doesn’t mean that this is a story He will move into publication. It may be cathartic for you, or maybe be a tremendous series of articles instead. It could actually be a subject dear to you, and you’ll stick to it to completion and “learn the craft.” The point is to continue moving. God may tell you to write something but don’t put words in His mouth as to the use. Write. Write. Write. Turn the projects over to Him and trust that His timing is perfect. 

Keep those back pocket projects growing. You may be pleasantly surprised how your career begins to grow.


Cindy K. Sproles is an author, speaker, and conference teacher. She is the cofounder of Christian Devotions Ministries and the executive editor for www.christiandevotions.us and www.inspireafire.com. Cindy is the lead managing editor for SonRise Devotionals and also Straight Street Books, both imprints of LPC/Iron Stream Media Publications. She is a mentor with Write Right and the director of the Asheville Christian Writers Conference held each February at the Billy Graham Training Center, the Cove, Asheville, NC. Cindy is a best selling, award winning novelist. Visit Cindy at www.cindysproles.com.

Photo by freddie marriage on Unsplash


  1. This is so timely for me, Cindy. I've always worked on one book at a time, although I wrote blog posts simultaneously. This year I've been asking friends for their opinions on which of three projects I should pursue. The best advice I received was, "Do all three." That's what I'm doing, and I'm finding this new experience a welcome challenge. So glad to see your article as a kind of validation!

  2. Cindy, this is the most helpful advice I've read in a while. It makes sense. Thanks!

  3. Cindy, Great advice! Thanks for sharing!