Today is the first installment of something a little different on this blog: A Blog Chain entry! Some fabulous writers do this on a monthly basis, answering a single question and then creating a chain of awesomeness for their readers to follow. I've been reading The Chain for a while, and have always enjoyed hearing the different writer's perspectives.
The question for this chain was posed by the fabulous Terri Rainer (http://terrirainer.blogspot.com/2009/08/blog-chain-blatherskite.html) is:
Do you focus on one project at a time, or do you have many irons in the fire at any given moment?
Before me, answering this question was Cole Gibson (http://colegibsen.blogspot.com/2009/08/blog-chain-post-multitasking.html), and after me will be Kate Quinn (http://katekaryusquinn.blogspot.com/).
I thought about this topic over the past week, and realized a few key things about myself.
1) I have the potential to be the biggest procrastinator on the planet, and
2) I have to keep myself on a short leash to get anything done. Ever.
I've always like to think of myself as an awesome multi-tasker, and I do a great job of juggling tasks at work or menial tasks at home. I can juggle chores in a way where I become a one-woman assembly line--the height of efficiency.
However, when it comes to my writing, if I try to focus on more than one big project, I fall apart.
What the heck??
When I'm working on editing LEGACY OF THE EMPRESS, it's all I can focus on. It was only when I thought I was finished with it, that I began my next novel, HOLLOW LAND. Now that I'm back tweaking LoTE, the second novel is sitting in the corner patiently awaiting its turn.
Why is this? Why can't I be like other writers who have 3 or 4 manuscripts going at once, or are pumping out short stories while working on their novels?
I think I've finally figured it out, and there are a few reasons (man, today I am loving the lists!):
1) If I have too many projects, I will do them all poorly, instead of one thing well
2) If I have too many projects, all of them will take forever to complete, and I won't get anything accomplished
3) If I have too many projects, if I make a mistake in one, chances are I'll make it in all of them.
One of the biggest things I've discovered from writing and rewriting my first novel is that I am able to grow as a writer. I've made a lot of mistakes throughout this process, but instead of jumping into other projects and making the same mistakes in four novels, I chose to stick with this one, and rewrite until I learned the lessons I needed to become better. I would deeeeply regret it if I'd been writing the sequel and working on other stories when I discovered the issues with my first novel. I'd rather take it slow with one project, learn what I need to learn, and then save myself from making those mistakes on my next novel.
Then I get to make all new mistakes and learn some more. YAY!
I also know that if I have too many things going on, I won't have the focus and drive I need to complete them. I'm not a fast writer, I'm a thorough writer, so writing one thing at a time helps me get the job done.
It's funny to me that even though I'm a "typical artistic type" in many ways (I'm messy at home), I'm actually very mythodical when it comes to my art. This just works for me, even though others go at it completely differently and achieve great success.
How do you guys work?
Are you able to multitask projects and complete them?
If so, tell me how ;)! I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Also, don't forget to tune into Kate tomorrow for her answer!