Multitasking, does it work?

One task at a time?

That’s almost unheard of! Unacceptable! A waste of time!

Do I agree? No. Not really. I believe in living in the moment. I believe in experience. In one thing at a time.

But, the real question is do I multitask? Yes, I do. All the time. In fact, I am almost never doing just one thing at a time. I can’t–I’m a mom of 3. If I did one thing at a time we wouldn’t make it out of pyjamas before noon.

Truthfully, I can’t blame it all on my kids. I have a lot I want to accomplish, and one day just isn’t enough. So, I create hours by synching them together.

Does it work? Yes, I think it does. I can’t see a way around it, actually. The danger, for me, lies it letting too much of life get done by rote. But that is not the nature of this post.

One place I haven’t multitasked in a long time is writing. I try to focus on one element, or even multiple layers at a time, but all in ONE work. Working on more than one piece felt too scary, too dangerous. Would I lose some of my connection with my WIP? How could I focus on more than one world at a time? Would my voices cross from one novel into the other? Would thematic elements shuffle? Would details get lost? And so on; you get the idea. So for the last six months or so I’ve been focused solely on editing one work.

While the process is going well, and I love it most of the time, a part of me finds this very painful. I love to draft, and not having drafted anything in all this time is driving me nuts! My brain is on overdrive, creating story after story, character after character. Some of them return again and again, others disappear after a brief appearance.

I ignore them, scared to lose myself in them. I fear a new draft would result in my becoming oblivious to my current WIP. But, I have begun to consider to let myself write a draft. If only to quiet myself, so that I can focus on my editing. Perhaps a set amount of free-writing time each day? But, can I be focused enough to turn away from what I will begin writing, so that my current WIP does not suffer?

Maybe I am fooling myself that I can do this. Just the thought of sitting down to write a new drafts gets my blood flowing, and my brain immediately goes into that trance like state of immersion where everything is created. And I haven’t even begun.

I ask you: Do you ever work at two different pieces at the same time? Have you been succesful doing this?

 

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14 thoughts on “Multitasking, does it work?

  1. I’m in a similar situation. I’m editing away on a second draft of my current WIP, but get bombarded by other great ideas. Here’s what I do, I write them down. Just the first page, premise or outline unless one of them ‘speaks’ to me too much. Then I allow myself to work on it, but only as a reward, after editing so many pages, chapters, etc of my WIP. This seems to work for me, maybe it would for you?

    1. Hi Trudy, thanks for stopping in and for the comment.
      I like the idea of the reward, I’m just not sure I’d be rushing through my edits just to get to my draft. But, I’m such a perfectiniost I doubt it. Something to think about, thanks for sharing!

  2. I don’t work on more than one at a time, but by that I mean, I’ll work on my WIP and perhaps the next day I’ll decide to polish up a short, or even note down ideas for something else. But I won’t get into the heads of my characters, in this space, I’m only outlining events. When I’m into the deep writing, into character, the situation, how everyone in the scene may be responding, I can’t possibly stop that and turn to a new project.

    1. You see, Jess, I wish I had that.
      The only time I experience what you describe is during the drafting process. When I’m editing it takes a lot of work for me to keep focus and not turn away. Once I sit down and begin to work, it’s no problem, I’m gone into that world. It’s the pre- that requires the bullying. I’m training myself, when thoughts arise of other novels that I have yet to write, I turn to my current WIP and let myself rumminate there.

  3. I think that working on one thing works for me – I tend to get through it faster than if I multitask – but I like having a few things on the go. It’s nice to mix it up between a first draft and editing and means I can switch between them when I get stuck. You’re right, there is something just so delicious about a first draft.

    I am going to be trialing a system next month where I have one CD per project, and I am hoping that switching music will help to keep the stories/characters/etc separate. I was meant to be editing and drafting so far this year, but got too stuck into the draft to do the editing. Time to get back on task with that 😉

    Good luck! Let us know how it goes.

    1. Hi JC. Oh, do I know what you mean about one work at a time because it goes faster. That’s been my prime motivation for working solely on my edits: I used to write shorts at the same time as editing because it satisfied both parts of me, and the short wasn’t too demanding on me that I couldn’t juggle them smoothly. I stopped because I wanted to be done with the edits in a shorter duration, yet it’s still taking me forver. I’ve been re-thinking this lately, trying to see if perhaps the edits would go faster if I allowed myself some time to hash out some shorts. Soften my writing self out around the edges. lol

      Really neat idea about linking music to your stories. I can’t wait to hear how it goes!
      Good luck getting back into the edits!

  4. Sometimes I’ll work on multiple things at once, but WIP 2 is always in a different state and is used as a break for WIP 1. I can’t maintain that for very long though.

    1. Hi Cam, I’m not sure if I could work at two projects in that way. Well, not 2 novels anyway. I get too attached, too immersed in my novels, but shorts certainly can be a nice distraction!

  5. I edit as I draft, and switch between my two novels depending on which characters talk the loudest in my head. Usually I’m able to get into the characters’ heads without mixing them up. 🙂

    1. you do, Jennifer? It’s nice to hear that it works for someone!!! I think if I had more time I would do the same. The brain works differently at different times of the day I find. Editing morning, drafting afternoon, sounds ideal! But, it does give me hope! 🙂 🙂

  6. I feel like you wrote this post especially for me Jennifer 🙂 It’s kind of freaking me out how similar our situations are. LOL

    Just this morning I was contemplating starting work on my novel, even though I havent completed editing my WIP yet. I also miss the actual writing/drafting. I feel like the creative part of my brain is gathering cobwebs! Unfortunately the judgemental part of me is telling me that my impending novel will distract me from completing my short story collection.

    Surprisingly, for my collection, I did nothing BUT multitask! I found myself working on 2 – 3 stories at a time. I never got confused because they are all different and it did alleviate the boredom of only working one story at a time. Of course these are shorts, it might be different for whole novels…
    Ps. Being a mother of 3, I would naturally assume you could write a book on multi-tasking
    😉

    1. I used to work shorts and a novel at the same time and it went really well. But the shorts were meant as a distraction, a way of experimenting, of going outside the book. I had no goal for them.

      I know exactly what you mean: your creative brain gathering cobwebs! lol. That’s exactly how it feels. For myself I’ve begun to let myself go with the new novel but only in mind. No writing. I’ve jotted down a few notes, and may even begin to form some type of outline, but nothing more, yet. That’s what I see working for myself right now.

      Good luck with finishing your shorts, Nisha! “)

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