Thursday, August 13, 2009

Blog Chain - Multitasking





First of all, I’d like to thank the other blog chain members for inviting me to their group. I’m so excited to be a part of this!!

I’m the last writer in the chain this round, but be sure to check out Kate’s post before mine.

Terri asked the question,

Do you focus on one project at a time, or do you have many irons in the fire at any given moment?

I am obsessive in my single-mindedness. I’m a hobby freak and when I find something new I usually throw myself into said project head first. I’ve made jewelry, soaps and lotions; I’ve even knitted beanies (skull caps). And when I was involved in those projects, that’s pretty much all I did.

Writing was the only on and off hobby I’ve ever had. That is until last April. When I finally sat down, determined to write an entire novel, my previous obsessions were left in the dust. Laundry stayed dirty, dishes piled up in the sink, the world dissolved around me and my laptop became my universe. It’s a little better now than it was, but I have to work at peeling myself away.

The same goes with a writing project. Once I’ve committed to the story, that’s all I work on. New ideas don’t even occur to me while I’m focused on a WIP. It tends to leave me with a bit of downtime between novels, but if an idea were to grip me mid-project, I’d probably spontaneously combust. I don’t even sleep well while I’m working because I wake up in the middle of the night with entire character conversations playing out in my mind. Multi-tasking writing projects present me with the possibility that I might confuse the narrative voice, causing characters from different stories to bleed into one another. It’s hard enough to assign personality traits to each character in a book, let alone divide my creative energy between more than one story.

I wish I was a better multi-tasker, and I KNOW that my family wishes I was. I’ve written a couple of short stories and then there’s the occasional blog entry, but even those are things I have to force myself to do while I’m actively engrossed in a WIP. I’m taking baby steps toward allowing my mind to wander. The benefit would be less down-time between projects or at the very least a new one would be queued up by the time I finish a current one. But I have faced the fact that I am OCD about writing, and I’m okay with it!

How about you? Do you see a single story through to the end, or is your WIP folder packed to overflowing with the beginnings of your new obsession? Let me know.

18 comments:

ElanaJ said...

I'm always thinking. While doing dishes, watching TV, driving. So I feel like I have a lot of "big ideas" floating around in my head while I'm writing a specific project. When I'm nearing the end of that project, I start to focus on which idea I want to develop next. That's when the voices start talking. It's all downhill from there. :)

Michelle McLean said...

I don't write multiple novels at the same time, but I do always have ideas floating around and sometimes I'll do research for one project while working on another. But yeah, I think if I attempted to write more than one novel at the same time, I'd never get anything done LOL Other genres (NF, picture books, etc) is a whole other story ;-D

Rebecca Knight said...

Good point about mixing your characters voices by accident! That is so true. I feel like I have to be able to "take off" my old characters like a pair of pants before putting my new ones on.

Great post, and beautiful blog :D! Love the background!

Eric said...

Great post, and congrats on being part of the blog chain. I think I am slowly learning that I need to focus on one thing at a time, see it through to completion. I put up a post today about new habits I'm going to try using. The way you are focused is something I admire alot though, and I'm sure that's why you are successful.

Cole Gibsen said...

Great post, Amanda! I don't have to worry about missing voices. Whoever is screaming the loudest is who I have to listen too. Hee.

B.J. Anderson said...

This is a really good post, and I think there's a lot to be said with sticking to one idea at a time. It seems logical that it would be the best way to end up with a well-thought out manuscript. Sometimes when I multitask, my ideas wander and are vague. Great post!!

Robin of My Two Blessings said...

Congratulations on being asked into the blog chain. I've been following the chain for a while. I have to focus on one wip at a time and listen to my characters. Otherwise I'd get them all confused if I tried to handle more than one project at a time. I've had those moments - wake up in the middle of the night and write the story in my head.

Suzanne said...

OH MY!

One work at a time with many ideas brewing and critiquing and oh yeah three children a full time job a husband and a PhD program. hmmmmm

Lazy Writer said...

I tried to work on two projects at the same time. It did not go so well. I think I'm much better with focusing on one at a time.

christinefonseca said...

I am always getting new ideas for stories - but I can only sit down and write one book at a time!

Shaun Hutchinson said...

Hey there! Great way to end the topic. I'm with you on the hobby front. I get into things and throw myself into them until I get bored. Then I move on.

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

Hmmm... dishes piling up in the sink, that sounds kind of familiar;)

Great post. I actually didn't start to get any ideas for my next WIP until I was in rewrites, during the first draft I was just too focused on getting that story down on paper.

TerriRainer said...

I actually have a folder full of ideas for stories, but I'm like you...I should ONLY focus on one at a time, and I haven't been. The voices are so much clearer and louder when they aren't sharing space with unrelated characters from a different WIP (I think only a writer or crazy person will understand...).

Great post!

:) Terri

Lynnette Labelle said...

Great post. I'm only writing one book at the moment, but I have tons of other projects that take me away from my writing time. :(

If you write romance (or if someone you know does), stop by my blog. I have a contest going on that might interest you.

Lynnette Labelle
http://lynnettelabelle.blogspot.com

TereLiz said...

I can only really work on one WiP at a time. That doesn't mean I don't edit older work, but I don't have 2 first drafts going at the same time. Feels counterproductive.

I find nothing wrong in going through older work every now and again to see how my writing has improved, or to see if time and distance have given me a clearer outlook on this particular project.

Kat Harris said...

Laundry stayed dirty, dishes piled up in the sink, the world dissolved around me and my laptop became my universe.


Aaaah, the sure sign of a writer.

Welcome to the chain!

Shelli said...

once i start - I go to the end. dont know why?

Annie Louden said...

I think it's great you're able to focus on one thing only, and so well. You are probably far more productive that way, even though it might not feel like it. But like some others have said, I think having too many projects just slows them all down.