Multi-Tasking

When I finished the final edits on the second Highway to Hell installment, I found myself at a crossroad.

I had so many different projects planned out in my head, I was not sure which to do first. This got me thinking. Is it possible to work on multiple projects at the same time?

Until now, I have always had a very straightforward approach to my writing. I knew it wasn’t perfect, and needed to be tweaked in order for me to be the most productive, so this just felt like the right moment to go about it.

My system was simple, I would wake up, and I would write at any available moment. Once I was finished writing, I would edit. That was pretty much it. I didn’t edit as I wrote, I simply split the task right down the middle. It worked, don’t get me wrong, but it just wasn’t as productive as I know it could have been.

I have decided to take not only a more structured approach to my writing, but to my day in general.

I have split my writing time into three sessions. Morning, Lunch and Evening.

The early mornings, before I leave for work, are now dedicated to the new novel. I am actually planning this novel chapter by chapter, and feel it is already benefiting from being planned out in advance. I also plan to edit chapter by chapter too, which will also fall into this, first portion of my day.

During my lunch break at work – a whopping thirty minutes – I will edit my completed short story collection. I am in no rush to get this done, and the lunch break offers the perfect opportunity.

My evening shift will then be taken up by either some freelance work (if I can find it – subject of a post later this week) or my new novel again.

I don’t why, but I seem to feel much more productive doing this. Whether it is just the thought that I am working on more than one project, or because I am keeping my brain fresh and on its toes, I don’t know. All I do know is that it seems to be working, for me.

What about you? Can you, or do you, work on more than one project at a time? If so how do you divide your time?

I don’t think I could write two separate projects at once, but writing one and editing another is a different story. In theory the two compliment each other, and keep the subconscious ticking over and aware of what is going on.

The other bonus that I have discovered is that not only do I get a better burst of writing done in one particular sitting, but I am no longer so hard on myself. I have my 750 a day target, and this morning, because my daughter was awake and wanted to play, I only got 500 words done. Normally this would have driven me to write more and more over the rest of the day, but because that was my allotted time for the new WIP, I didn’t feel as guilty for missing out. I came close and tomorrow will try harder to make up some words but that is it.

It actually got me thinking about a post a good friend of mine wrote a while back. The immensely talented LauraLynn Elliott wrote about how she set herself time limits instead of word limits and how it changed her whole writing outlook. It is a short post, but thought-provoking and well worth a read.

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9 thoughts on “Multi-Tasking

  1. I read a really interesting post on Indies Unlimited recently about various techniques that can help authors self-edit. One of them was to start work on something else so the brain is jerked out of the rut where it sees what should be on the page instead of what actually is written there. By doing different types of work on two different projects I think you’ve stumbled on a way to do much the same thing. Good job!

    1. Thanks Andrea,

      I have to admit I do feel more focused on each project as I sit down to do it. I think I have stumbled across something that is going to help me improve in all areas. I am glad to hear about the article you read, it means I am not the only one who things along those lines.

  2. I bounce from system to system depending on my mood, but I’ve found having a time limit helps keep the work fresh but also leaves me wanting more. When I’m cruising I can crank out up to 3000 words in a couple of hours. When time’s up I’m tired but also energized to do more so I edit. I look at it as being similar to a sales trick where you offer something then take it away to create a sense of longing. Whatever the reason, it’s helped me stay fresh. Glad to see it’s helping you too. 🙂

    1. That is a nice effect that I hadn’t considered. It keeps you hungry and more energized for the next time period opens up for that particular project.

      I am glad to see that it works for others and I am not just trying to take on too much at once. Thanks for dropping by.

  3. Ahh, the battles we face as writers. I found it difficult in the beginning to work on more than one project at a time. Changing gears when I was head-deep in another story line caused me to lose focus. My balance now is very similar to yours…

    I write one book while editing or plotting other projects. This allows me some perspective as I go about each task. I don’t work too long on any one part, so burnout isn’t a problem. I’ve also found working with other authors to be very helpful. It introduces you to different writing, plotting, and editing styles as well as creating a support system.

    1. I do not think i could write two books at once, or even edit two at once. The combination of them both however does seem to fit just right. Avoiding burnout is a great side effect I must admit. If you work on one project too long, you get too close to it and don’t see the cracks. Moving your focus around a limited number of ongoing projects keeps you at a comfortable distance to remain competently judgmental of your own work.

  4. Good plan, Alex! I have tried working on different projects but at the moment my focus is my third Redcliffe novel. I want to finish some short stories I have in progress, but my time lately is split between writing the new novel, promoting the first two, and keeping up with my three blog sites. I am still working out a practical routine to fit around being a housewife and mother… and some freelance writing work would help.

    1. Tell me about it Catherine. But I do like the split I have now, because I can assign the evening shift (for lack of a better word right now) to freelance work or blog posts etc as and when they are required. If nothing I can just add a bit of extra to one of the projects, or even give myself an evening off every now and then.

      As always it was a pleasure to hear from you.

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