Too Many Burners Going: Writing Multiple Projects

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Every writer is guilty of cluttering their work space with notes, pages, and manuscripts of several different projects. It happens; life happens. We are inspired by one story line that our inner muse promises will be the best we’ve ever written, but then that fickle lady promises us the same for this next idea, and another, and another, and suddenly our writing schedule is overfilled with so many “amazing stories that will change the world.”

Not that they can’t, but even the most accomplished writers can only do one thing at a time with ease. Not to say either that writers are not capable of multi-tasking, but when you have so many burners on the stove which are not carefully monitored or worked with, you can go from calm and collected to, well, this:

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Or even:

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Look, there’s no use in taking on so much if you’re going to burn down the kitchen (your mind). It’s great if there are a lot of ideas that come to you in such a small span of time, but it’s mentally exhausting to plot out one story alone but then to add on another book, short story, poetry collection, or novella that all seem like great ideas can drain you.

Mark it down:

So when you do have more ideas that nudge their way to the forefront of your writing hours, rather than drop what you’re doing to start anew with a different character and pathway, jot a note down. Keep a notebook handy or journal specifically for inspirations that take form. Perhaps a small one so you can tote it with you anywhere (you never know when ideas will strike) and you’ll be assured you won’t forget the ideas. How many amazing ideas have we lost truly believing that we will remember them after an hour?

Prioritize:

Which project is more important to be finished? Work on that. Which one has a deadline that must be met (say if we’re talking about projects that you’re planning to publish or send out to agents for consideration) or that you feel the most confidence in? Think of it as schoolwork: you work on the project that either has the biggest page count/the most work which will take up the most time or has the closet deadline (we could probably figure out a formula with a combination of these two factors and should you have this figured out, comment it below).

Quality, Not Quantity:

At some point, either from school or social chatter with other writers, we are given this idea that we must have our schedule filled to the brim with several projects or one huge one. There is nothing wrong with tackling one big project or quietly tinkering with a small project; with the editing process, even a small short story can take a while to polish into shiny completion. The quality should be your priority, not the quantity, so only take on enough of the latter which won’t compromise the former.

Do what is comfortable and will help you grow, not what you believe will make you a “real” writer. You’re writing, aren’t you? Trust me, you’re doing great. Don’t let the amount of your work fool you into thinking that less pages means you’re less than a real writer. Keep it up, work on your projects as evenly as possible, but don’t catch the kitchen on fire!

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