Well hey! It’s been ages since I’ve done an actual “about writing” post, so here we go.
I’m of the mind that the more you write, the better, and I don’t mean quantity of words on a single work, but rather the breadth of genres and styles of writing. Going from YA to erotica to hard scifi to a script will stretch your writing muscles like you wouldn’t believe. Changing up your pov and patter is great for that, too. This, of course, leads to having a lot of projects in process all at the same time. Some will get more time than others, which means that there’s usually (for me) a span of time between working on each novel or script.
Friend of mine asked me the other day (and I’m paraphrasing): how do you keep the voices of your characters distinct while working on multiple Works-in-Progress (WiP)?
For me outlines are a big key to getting back in the swing of things. I’ve harped on enthused about outlines before, but this is yet another use for them. When it’s been a few months since I’ve written on a project (maybe even a year or more), reading the outline that I wrote while in the first grips of passion for the story is a huge help. It reminds me not only of where I’m going, but how I got to where I left off. It orients me back into the characters and the world in which they live.
Another basic step is simply to reread the last couple of chapters (or even the whole thing) up to where I stopped writing. This sinks me a bit deeper into the flow of the writing so I can pick up the speech patterns and overall tone of the work again. Because writing my Arbiter books is vastly different than writing my Wedding books which in turn is vastly different than writing my Fluctuations books, etc., etc.
Last but not least, music! I know, it sounds silly, but I write best to music and having a playlist ready that invokes the mood of the world and characters really helps. I’ll listen to the playlist on repeat for days ahead if I know that I’m going to be setting aside a good chunk of time to work on a specific project.
And there you have it. A few tricks to help keeping characters (and universes) straight when you’ve got way too many projects going on at the same time.
Good luck! And may the muse be with you. :o)