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Writing Five Things at Once

Messy Desk

I’ve always thought I was a little ADD – generally, I flourish when I can be bouncing back sand forth between multiple tasks, and rarely do I sit down and do just ONE THING AT A TIME.

But sometimes I wonder if this serves me well in my writing too.

This last week, I cleared the decks to start work on a trilogy, letting one of my short stories, Oberon, run wild like it has wanted to for some time. I wrapped up all the other shorts I was working on, and got them sent off for submission.

So I was all ready to focus on this one thing.

Then I saw a call for submissions that sounded perfect for Wolf Dreams, a short story fragment I’d never finished. So I pulled it out of its dusty computer folder and took a look – sure, I could do this.

Then I happened across another opportunity to write something for a Faery anthology, and thought – oh, I have just the idea for this one. I jotted it down in my dream journal at 11 o’clock at night, and went back to sleep.

So now I’ve got three things on my plate. I’m thinking, ok, I can do this. I’ll just work on them round-robin.

Then one of my previous submissions, Free to Fly, comes back with some requested changes. OK, so I knock that one it in a night and send it back out. I’m down from four stories to three again.

Then the lovely Ashlyn Forge sends me a detailed critique for the story I submitted for Gay Sci Fi (MM Romance), Re-Life. And wouldn’t you know, there’s another requested change for Free to Fly.

So now my formerly clear desktop has five projects sitting on it instead of one. ::: sigh :::

So I knock those two out over three nights, and now I’m back to three.

I do wonder, sometimes, if my mind works best if I try to keep it focused on one project at a time, or if I let it roam from story to story? How about you?


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7 thoughts on “Writing Five Things at Once”

  1. I’m always working on multiple things, mostly because of writing an ongoing, online YA series with my co-authors as well as my other adult titles.

  2. I’ve discovered I can work on multiple contemporary stories with no problem. But I can’t jump back and forth between a contemporary story and the fantasy I have set in the early iron age. The voices are apparently different. :-)

  3. I work on 8 to 10 projects at once every day and that’s not including edits. Sometimes, I wonder the same thing. If it benefits me. But I can’t seem to NOT do that. Lol It’s just how my mind works.

  4. I’ve had this problem in the past. What I’ve found that works for me is to have Story Prime. This is the primary story that I devote most of my attention to. When I need a break from it, however, I go to several side projects. They can be fanfiction or some other little plot bunny that’s hippidy-hopped in circles around my brain for a while.

    That’s just me, though. Sometimes, being chaotic works best.

    Find out what works for you and use it. :)

  5. I have very limited amount of writing time, much of which is taken up by promoting other people’s work and beta reading, so no, one thing at a time for the actual writing process. If I try to do more – my novels tend to be lengthy – I just have two or three sources of guilt instead of one. But I’m usually thinking about new ideas and reading non fiction as research for forthcoming projects.

    Good luck with your shorts. I’m looking forward to seeing them.

  6. I can’t do more than one at a time. I have several unfinished projects that are waiting, but I’ve set up a priority list and work according to that. I finish it, let it sit for a few weeks and start on the next project. Then, once I’ve edited the manuscript several times, sent it to betas, and finally shipped it off to a publisher, I’ll have edits and one writing project going at the same time. That’s what works for me.


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