What is the best method for working on a story? Digging in and camly solving every problem as you come upon them? Or just jump to the next project and find energy in the constant creative flow?
For many years I suffered from the delussion that “real” writers worked from page 1 until the book was finished. This resulted in many a stranded story for me. When I finally gave myself permission to go ahead and skip to the ending or the middle, if I had an idea for that, my creative juices really started flowing.
These days I’ve also allowed myself the luxury of jumping from one project to the other, and I find it works the same way for me. Instead of standing still, I go in another direction, keeping the forward momentum.
Every project is a learning experience, every story brings new ideas. I can skip from one story to another, using what I just learned for something else, perhaps as a way to get unstuck on a story problem or motivational issue.
The downside of working on multiple things at once, is that you can get the feeling you’re not going anywhere. That you are just spinning wheels when in fact you are moving forward.
The need to focus in certain phases can be neccessary
Jumping around is fun, but to finish something, you need some crunch time. I always seem to forget that stories and projects don’t push themselves into my work day. I have to put them there, block out time to work on them. If I wait until I get some free time or get “inspired”, I will take all these projects with me to my grave. Unfinished.
As Stephen King once says in his book On Writing:
Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.
My method of jumping from one project to another might not be for you. But as long as you finish them eventually, (see this post on finishing) I see no problem with working on five things at once. It might just spark that creative energy that keeps the creativity flowing instead of running dry…
Do you work best with one thing at a time or are you a scatterbrain like me? Let’s hear your story!