Friday, May 28, 2010
A Writer’s Focus
There is a belief that to focus on only one story at a time is the best way to go. A writer can concentrate on all aspects of their project – the characters, the plot, the atmosphere, the style. This would mean they don’t water it down with intrusions of other ideas that don’t belong.
I asked this question via twitter. Everyone who responded said that they don’t go by this rule. They all pursued multiple ideas and projects. And they all indicated a little guilt over the fact as if it were a bad thing.
When I’m writing a powerful scene that’s charged with emotion or drama I do find I must focus on that scene only to be able to capture the full essence of the scene. I write my best when I’m focussed. But, I’m also one of those people who read more than one book at a time and I have multiple short stories and articles in the works, a hundred blog ideas floating around my mind and a number of book ideas calling for attention. None of this is a bad thing. It’s natural for a writer to be abuzz with ideas to explore.
How then can I focus on one project with all that jumbled in my head?
I make a list of priorities, I follow a schedule and I have an internal switch to control the chaos.
When a deadline draws near, that’s my priority. Because of this, I try to write all my blog posts ahead of time and preschedule them to post. I try to be a week ahead. I then schedule my novel and non-fiction book writing time and try to stick to it. On the weekends I give myself the freedom to explore short story ideas.
It’s a handful, I know, but when I’m not writing, I’m thinking. I have notepads throughout the house so I can jot thoughts down when something triggers an idea. I cut out newspaper articles and put them in a pile to think about later.
I don’t spend a lot of time on a new idea. I’ll make a note and move back to the highest priority in my schedule.
Do you work on one project at a time? How do you manage your time and focus your thoughts?