More Than One Story?

by Arianna

Question: I'm currently working on a manuscript that's pretty good, I think, and I'm very passionate about everything I'm writing in it. However, there's a problem. The other day, I got this fantastic idea for another manuscript I can write that I'm ALSO crazed about. I'm intensely interested in both ideas, but I don't want to give up my first manuscript just to dive into another.

Is there a way i can maybe juggle both of these works at the same time, or am I just going to have to bury my ideas away until I'm finished this piece of work?

Answer: Personally, I find it hard to work on more than one project at a time, probably because it takes a large percentage of my available brain power to get fully immersed in one project. Being immersed in two at once sounds like trying to do two things at the same time. Your train of thought could crash every time you switch projects.

(Research has shown that doing more than one thing at a time reduces one's performance on both tasks, while making you feel like you're performing better. It's an illusion. Give it up.)

That said, do not bury your ideas for the next project before writing them down, even just in point form. You can take half an hour to do this without abandoning your
first project.

Some people will spend a week or two on one project, then switch to another, then perhaps a third, then go back to the first etc.

Usually you switch projects like this because you've reached a point on one project where you feel some anxiety or uncertainty and doing something else is a way to avoid tackling the problem with the first project that is causing your anxiety.

This can work because, by the time you return to the first project, your anxiety about it will have had a chance to abate. However, the danger is that you can take forever to finish anything. You can keep jumping from one new project to the next until, a decade from now, you find yourself with a collection of half-finished manuscripts sitting on a hard drive that is now so old no computer can read the files and not even your closest friends believe you're a writer. (That may sound far fetched, but it's not. Seriously. It happens.)

A more effective approach is often to sit with the first project until the anxiety dissipates on its own and the ideas start flowing again. A little deep breathing, stretching, yawning, or even going for a walk can also help the anxiety to retreat.

If your second idea is strong, it will still be strong when your first project is finished.

Comments for More Than One Story?

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Nov 06, 2013
by: Arianna

Thank you so much for the great advice! I'll take the time to jot down some ideas for the second manuscript and then I'll return to the first. Thank you sooo much! :)

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