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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Biting Off More Than You Can Chew

We're welcoming PAN author, Michele Hauf.

That subject line applies to a few of our heroes, especially the wolfie ones. But today I’m focusing on us, we, the writers. I’m interested in hearing how everyone decides what their comfort level for taking on new projects is. Are you a writer who likes to focus on one story from beginning to end? Or are you the sort who enjoys having two, three, or even more projects going at one time?

Myself, I’m the multiple project writer. I need that option project going because there are days I’m not always interested in the main project. And I’ve learned that to force myself to work on something that isn’t calling to me results in dull text and uninspired characters. I don’t normally veer from a main project for long. Sometimes I take a day to work on other things, but it can be as long as a week. And the really great thing? When I return to the main project it feels fresh to me.

I’m going to guess that the majority of us are multiple-projects writers, for those same reasons I mentioned above. Escape from a project not calling to us, and the joy of sitting down to an old project that feels new again.

But do you ever get in over your head? Besides being the sort who will juggle many projects at once, I also have this frustrating habit of never saying ‘no’ to new projects. Oh sure, I can squeeze that one in between Project A and Project B if I stay up 24/7 for the next week. No problem! Have any of you ever done that? And then you find yourself struggling to finish the new project and not compromise the integrity of current projects. And sunlight! Sunlight becomes a thing of myth and legend. And in the end, is it really worth it?

I’m learning my lesson on that one. Sure, it’s awesome when new opportunities present themselves. But we, as writers, only have one set of hands, and one over-worked brain that loves to feed us the wyrd stuff, but seriously, they need a break once in a while. So today I said ‘no’. It hurt because I was passing up an opportunity, but at the same time it felt freeing. I will see the sun before winter comes! I will find a few moments away from the keyboard to just sit outside and remember what a tree looks like. :-)

What I’m trying to say is we’ve got to start taking care of ourselves and understand that sometimes the big bite isn’t as good for us as nibbles. Does that make sense?

So tell me, are you a multiple project or single project writer? And do you ever bite off more than you can chew?



Erica Hayes said...

I'm a one-at-a-time person. I like to focus on one story, one group of characters at a time. Then again, I like to do lots of subplots, so it's kind of like doing more than one story at once.

Rhyanna said...

I have several manuscripts going at once. I could be working on a scene that doesn't quite fit one, but fits excellently on the other.
I also, sometimes, am editing a manuscript inbetween writing one or more new ones...
Women multi-task better than Men...it was proven...hehehehe

AliceAnderson said...

I always have multiple projects going. Sometimes too many. In fact, my current "project" is learning how to focus better. I like steadily chipping away at different things, but I also like the satisfaction of finishing things. So I need to learn how to balance both.

I too find my writing dull when I'm uninspired. So I stick with a limited number of projects at any given time. And any other ideas that come up, I'll jot down notes, but if I move one project to a front burner, another project must move back.

Lawna Mackie said...

I like writing one story at a time. I get totally wrapped up in the thing and love every minute of it.

I also bite off more than I can chew. I tend to be a slower writer and reader, so after doing critiques, judging a couple contests, and my own revisions that never seem to end, I find myself wondering when exactly it might be that I can actually sit down to write for myself.

Perhaps I'm not so good at multi-tasking. I sure do admire every author out there!

Liz Kreger said...

I'm usually a multi-tasker but I also know when to say "no". Sometimes I will hold a new project over my own head as a reward to finishing something else.

Makes me crazy sometimes, but it seems to work. LOL.