It’s not every writer who has the luxury of working on only one writing project at any time.
Whether you’re working on personal writing projects or work-related ones you’ll more often than not, have quite a few to juggle. Chances are you’ve started them on a sudden wave of inspiration. Over time you had difficulty coping owing to time and energy constraints.
You might have taken the easy way out and given up on some of the projects. Maybe you’re just concentrating on one or two only and are feeling guilty about neglecting the others.
I used to face this problem before. Ideas pop up every now and then and I get started on writing. Before I could make any progress with them other ideas surface and I get started on them as well.
After a while I filtered the ideas I would be work on and which I would make notes of and store away for future treatment.
But even the handpicked ideas burgeoned and at any one moment I had at least 10 writing projects to work on.
All, at first glance, seemed equally important. But I quickly realised that if I accord equal importance to all of them, I’ll get nowhere with any of them.
Having many writing projects is not really a bad thing. Sometimes when you’re blocked or can’t get moving on one, you could play the monkey game and swing over to the next ‘tree’. You have the consolation of working on something else before coming back to the one you couldn’t make progress with.
I encourage you to have many writing projects at any one time and do you best to complete them all. Variety is the spice of a writing life.
That said, here’s a trick I use to complete and ship as many writing projects as possible.
Just like a football team manager who could only put a a certain number of players on the field and the rest on the bench, you’ve to select the few ‘first-choice players’ and bench the rest.
In my case, I selected the three projects (out of 10) I’ll work on every day, no matter what. The rest of the seven will be rotated.
I try to get the frst three proiority projects done in the morning. Then in the afternoon, I’ll select the two on the bench and work on them.
The next day will be the same. The first three priority projects will be done in the morning and another set of two will be done in the afternoon.
This way I can get most of the work done and found myself far more productive than working on a single project the whole day.
Even working on the three priority projects can be tricky. The one thing I’ve to guard against is giving too much attention to any one of the projects. When you start working on one, you might get sucked into the flow and write away without regard for the time allocated for the other two.
To prevent this, I set a deadline for each. This allows me to stay focused and get as much done as possible.
I allocate thirty minutes to each. Can’t get much done in that time but at least I develop momentum and prevent from writing myself out dry.
One and a half hours of solid writing time and I’ve made progress in three prokects.
The thirty minute is a tentative time limit though. I try to be flexible, give or take 10 minutes.
If one of the projects isn’t progressing well and I know I’ll just be wasting my time and energy if I continue, I’ll limit myself to 15 or 20 minutes. If the going is good, I may write up to 45 minutes.
You’ve got to break a rule or two to enjoy writing.
When You Shouldn’t Use This Method?
This method works well for long-term projects with loose deadlines or no deadlines (wouldn’t encourage this).
If you’re faced with a tight deadline and have to deliver a piece of writing in a few days or have to complete a big project in a few weeks and time is of essencxe, you’ve got to put everuything aside and work on that.
This will include work-related projects, or income-generating projects where much is at stake.
When I have a work-related project that needs to be done pronto, I try to get it out of the way, sometimes forst thing in the morning before working on anything else.
Sometimes much attention is needed on this so much so the whole morning is taken up and much energy expended.
In this instance, I can only manage ten minutes to each priority project. It’s unsatisfying, yes, but there’s the consolation of showing up and doing what I can.
So, remmber, when you’ve multiple writing projects to complete, don’t get overwhelmed. Get started in the smallest way you can. Make a priority list and allocate a time limit to each.
Progress may be ‘slow’ but if you keep at it, you’ll get all of them done, sooner or later.
Remember, better late than never.