Writers tend to be multi taskers with a couple hats to wear. Whether you are a writer with a ‘money job’ – the thing that pays your regular bills – or a writer with a separate or linked career – like teaching or in the arts, you’ve got more hats than a man with a nervous hairline.
Full time writers often build their career through writing their publications/productions, writing applications for competitions and funding sources, going into schools, leading workshops, coaching, as event speakers, copy writers, editors, proofreaders, guest bloggers, producers …. I’d like to say I can go on but I’ve run out. Comment what I’ve missed out!
And then within the ‘writing’ itself, there are a variety of styles: Non-fiction and informative writing, fiction in all it’s many forms and genres, poetry, script…. You have projects running along side each other and maybe use one mode of writing (like poetry or journaling) to warm up before jumping into another form.
Writers become excellent multi taskers, however it has its down side. Running between projects and styles and roles can hold you back from making any meaningful progress in your work. Nothing quite seems to get finished. I like to think that because each of my writing projects is in a different form of writing that it’s fine. I can switch happily between my novel and my script and my poetry. It’s a totally different hat, right?
About two years ago I spoke with a friend who’d recently been pushed to cut out the noise and focus to finish one project. I had to look at myself and how I was ‘working’. And yeah, I was getting words down, but my progress was slow and uninspiring.
I decided to try something different. Instead of jumping between writing projects based on what I felt like writing, I tried to break up my year. It’s not a perfect system, but it helped me start completing drafts. It enabled me to become fully engrossed in each project to make some headway. Even when I’m not actually getting much writing done, I had space to work on ideas in the back of mind. It’s amazing how much thinking you can get done when you aren’t paying attention and taking it one at a time.
Try it yourselfList your current writing projects. Look at the year ahead and think about how you might want to divide up your attention. Be mindful of how the seasons affect your mood and productivity – does your poetry flow better in the sun? Does the sound of rain help your dialogue? Avoid setting goals or deciding whether you’ll be writing or editing or promoting. All you are doing is divvying up your time to each project and remember: only one at a time!