I have set a December date for the first draft of The Book of Sharon, and over the next couple of weeks, making it happen will be a priority. My focus has wandered between several projects, and now, it is down to clock versus pen. I am goal oriented and I dislike missing a generous timeframe. It happens, and sometimes our focus splits in many directions. One little trap that I have identify as far as my working habits is learning to battle the generous flow of ideas that one story may generate at a particular point when writing. That is, one scene, character, or something about research may trigger ideas that spark the creation of future novels. It is easy to become sidetracked by these ideas, and become an octopus of multiple future projects, and by default, a turtle on the projects at hand. I have been guilty of it, many times hindering the progress of the story at hand. So far, I have three future books lined up, and unless I deal with the one at hand, in the now, none of them will become reality. This is an easy trap to fall into, and one not so easy to get out of, that is, unless you realize it. Why is that?
The answer is simple – because you as a writer, are working on what you are supposed to do – write and research, and that in itself gives you the illusion – that you are working hard “in the now” (and you are), when in reality, you have crossed the time/space of your current project wandering into a dimension of future projects, and unless you return to the “now” to work on the story at hand, it will consume your productivity, making it harder to make progress, to advance your project. Without productivity in the now, there are no results, no future stories, despite the many lined-up stories. You might argue that research on future novels/projects is healthy, and it is; however, it is when that research is hindering progress of a current project (taking its allotted time) that it becomes a productivity/time management issue. What happens to inspiration or the “mood for writing?” I believe that there is a time to be inspired and act on it, but also a time (more so) to work hard when inspiration is not present. In other words, if you wait for inspiration to start writing, you will never finish a story. This is why time management for writers is so important. Setting priorities, a balance between work and personal priorities is essential. This post addresses writing priorities. Other than work that has a deadline, my priority (writing) should be my current novel, and anything that falls under it – editing, cover work, early promotion … although these are secondary to it, but an important part that must be done. When doing research, I must stick to the necessary research for the novel, needed to advance the writing of it.
I used to believe that multitasking was good; I was wrong. Multitasking is opposite to productivity – it is the opposite to “being in the now,” and being in the now promotes the flow of productivity, the healthy flow of the project at hand. There are circumstances when multitasking will save the day (ask a busy Mom), however, when multitasking becomes a modus operandi, it hinders the healthy flow of life, of work, and if you are a writer, eventually of inspiration – the Muse itself. As far as my work is concerned, I have learned to name the thieves of productivity, the future ghosts of now, by anchoring foot and returning to the task at hand when I begin to wander, to sabotage myself.