I've had a lot of people ask me my opinion on when to start their next project.
Is it better to finish your first project first? Or if inspiration for the second one strikes, to jump into it for awhile to carry the momentum, then go back to your first? Forget the first book and focus on the 2nd? Or some other combination?
Here's my opinion, and it's just my opinion (other Scribble Chicks, please chime in!)
I think you should finish your book before starting a new one.
There's an exception to this, such as you no longer like your first book and are willing to throw it away completely and never pick it up again. Clearly, at that point, there's no need in finishing it. :)
But here's a secret. Anyone can start a book.
Not everyone can finish a book.
And that's the difference that editors and agents are looking for. That's what sets you above, automatically, the majority of the USA filled with aspiring authors.
FINISH. YOUR. BOOK.
Now, if inspiration for your new idea has you by the throat and you can't even look at your first one (which you still like and want to finish), then give yourself ONE day. One day to separate from your previous story, and jot down notes and ideas and even brief scenes or character descriptions for the new story. Mark it down because it can be crucial not to let the details that are important slip away or be forgotten. That's understandable, and you're totally allowed!
But then go back to your first project, and get it done. Let the excitement of your next story spur you on to finish your first one even faster. Because here's how the cycle works best and allows you to maximize your time and your influence in the industry. (Again, my opinion, but I speak from experience here, guys)
1. Start a book.
2. Finish a book. (with note jotting for a second story allowed in SHORT TIME SLOTS in between 1 and 2. So, 1A.)
3. Submit a book. (and yes, you should edit and revise and get critiques or whatever before this, but you know what I mean!)
4. Start 2nd book while you're waiting on feedback from your 1st. (This is awesome, because it helps the endless weeks go by productively while you're waiting to hear. It also makes potential rejection of the 1st story easier to swallow, because hey, you're already on a new project which they're SURE to like!)
5. Finish 2nd book.
(sometime in between 4-5 or 5-6, you're going to have heard back on your 1st. If its rejections, consider revising what was wrong and resubmitting, or putting the story aside for a later focus or potential backlist for when you DO get published. If you agree with the comments from the professionals that your story and writing wasn't there yet, then shelve the book for now and keep on with your second project. If the 1st book got requests for full submissions or a contract, celebrate and carry on as directed by that professional! And eat ice cream. But not mine. Steal Erynn's.)
6. Submit 2nd book.
7. Start 3rd book.
See the cycle? This system allows you to continue to grow and learn and challenge yourself with each new project. It also builds you a backlist of books and experience to potentially carry over to a publishing house one day. It teaches you how to stay disciplined and FINISH A BOOK. It carves your perseverence and also, flat out increases your chances of getting published because you never stop. This system also is easier emotionally, as I said earlier, because it gives you new focus while your "baby" is being judged and helps ease the rejection sting.
Any thoughts? Questions? :)