Thursday, February 28, 2013

Writing 101: Multitasking

Do you work on more than one book at a time? Blog, tweet and edit your latest creation all at once? Keep a smartphone in one hand while you get work done on the laptop with the other? Multitasking can be a great idea...but it has definitely got its limits. Too much multitasking can be the ruination of every goal you set.


Juggling Tasks

Self-published authors tend to keep a lot of balls up in the air. They work full-time, promote their indie books and write in their spare time. They have family lives, and friends, and favorite shows to watch on TV. Multitasking is  a natural side effect of leading a busy life and to be frank, pretty much everybody does it. Those social media breaks you take when you're in the middle of a chapter is multitasking, just like maintaining a blog and writing a novel at the same time. You do it, I do it, self-published authors can't survive without it. But if keep on juggling, eventually something's going to fall. Try not to be standing under it when it does.

Multitasking is a fine art form and, for many, a way of life. Master certain tips and tricks to keep all your balls in the air successfully.

  • Keep it straight: If you're going to multitask, keep notes and keep all your stuff separate. Don't confuse blog posts with book projects, and don't confuse book projects with each other. Use folders to keep everything organized. And when you go to write, get out all your stuff. I pull up notes, cast lists, outlines and everything I've got. This reinforces the project that you're working on and immerses you in that world. If you lose your way, all your stuff is right in front of you.
  • Keep it casual: Setting deadlines is where many authors end up failing. It's very difficult to manage a bunch of tasks and maintain discipline. Give yourself an unreasonable deadline or writing goal on top of it all, and you're going to break. Go easy on yourself. It's important to maintain discipline and work hard, but it's also important to take breaks and get some rest. Be willing to loosen up on deadlines and put some tasks off until tomorrow. Otherwise, you're going to make yourself crazy.
  • Keep it balanced: Why multitask? Wouldn't it be easier to complete one thing at a time and then move onto the next? For many authors, focusing on just one project alone can be too draining. A lot of emotion and thought goes into writing a book, and it's necessary to lose yourself in that world to write it correctly. Getting too deep in a single world for too long can make it difficult, nigh impossible, to create a wholly different world. Many authors multitask to bring a certain balance into their lives. If you're working on a dramatic tragedy novel, try spending some time on a more lighthearted project as well. Focusing too deeply on a single project can give you tunnel vision and lead you toward a whole host of problems. Multitasking is a good way to bring balance back.

A Cautionary Tale

Some researchers say that multitasking affects concentration, and that's probably true (after all, they've got evidence and everything). It's the author's job to learn how to focus deeply and concentrate intensely on the creative task at hand. If multitasking seems to interfere with that, stop. The truth is, sometimes it's necessary to take a quick break and to shut off that creative switch every once in a while. When you loosen up your thoughts a little, it's much easier for good ideas to appear.

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3 comments:

  1. So true! I think social media is sucking the life-force out of me. Staff, I need staff. LOL

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  2. I say that all the time, too. It would be divine to have an assistant.

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  3. Great topic. I also say I need some help, but honestly they'd be doing the housework, lol.

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