Saturday, March 29, 2008

Project Juggling: Cool Skill or Excuse in Disguise?

Both Norma and Laura commented recently that they are working on several things at once, and Laura specifically pointed out the value of finishing one's work.

I recently read an article on the value of having multiple projects going at any given time.  (My apologies - I can't remember where I was when I read it, so cannot give credit where credit is due).  The author suggested that by having many things at once, one always had something to work on.  If one project was stalled, go write on something else for awhile. 

Now, for those of us with writing ADD, this is a little bit of a scary proposal.  I'd never finish anything!!!  Here's what I noticed, though, and it gave me hope:

Never does the author count research, web surfing, or other "writerly" activities as writing.  No matter what, the idea is to get words on the page.  Whether you write a sentence or two on a nebulous something-or-other that's wandering about in your head or you write a chapter of your novel-in-progress, you are writing.  Always.

I like this.  I've said on my own blog that writing begets more writing, and I really do believe this.  But there's only so much one can do if the current project is not moving.  Sometimes you need to do something else in order to free up the subconscious to work on the problem.  If your something else is, say, playing marbles, you haven't done any writing and your habit suffers.  If the something else is a short story, a poem, even freewriting, you're still writing.  You're still working the writing muscle.

The author of the article suggests that this technique actually makes you more productive.  I can certainly see that possibility.  Anyone finding this works for them?  Do you finish things?

1 comment:

Laura Bradley Rede said...

Hey, Nola, you ask a good question. I have always worked on many projects at once. I'm the eldest of nine kids, have three kids of my own and a million pets-- multitasking is my life. I sometimes feel I spread my writing too thin, but if I try to work on only one project I get bored and don't write at all. I believe my many projects feed off eachother and I like the variety of switching between them. I start many more projects than I finish, it's true. But, that said, I think I finish about as many projects as my intermediate writer peers-- at least those who are also trying to raise families or hold down full time day jobs. So I think my juggling style works alright for me personally as long as I sometimes buckle down and force myself to stick with one project long enough to finish it...
Now, if I someday become the professional YA novelist I wish to be, and I have an editor and deadlines, will I have to change my style? Most likely, yes. But I'll cross that bridge when and if I come to it :)