All of us have moments when we are neck-deep in one story and have three others pecking at our hair. Keeping focus on one story at a time can be a challenge sometimes, but it’s extremely important. Think of it this way: you can’t probably play three different musical instruments at once, right? Or three songs at once? The answer to that is probably “no”. If it isn’t… email me because I must know your secrets.
The reality is we can only focus on one major project at a time and have high quality come out of it. Particularly if it’s something on the scale of a novel. Novels have a lot of moving parts, and keeping track of all of them can be a full time job for our mental processors. Putting something down in the middle of the project also means you’ll have a harder time picking it up again.
The result of switching projects in the middle often results in things lying about unfinished. Case in point: I started watching Netflix halfway through this article and lost about five hours of my life. I won’t tell you what I was watching because you, too, will be sucked into the spiral.
The reality is we aren’t designed to multitask like that. No one wants to end up with a bunch of half-finished projects with no sign of completion. That’s a bad place to be. If we want to finish a novel (and I think we all do!) then we all need to focus on one project at a time.
I know, we’re back to other stories pecking at our hair – so what do you do when they show up? You can write story ideas down in a notebook and get back to them. It’s what I typically do, and it helps if I come up with something I just can’t shake and want to save. That said – discipline is going to be your friend. It will keep you moving forward in your writing.
Just keep writing, just keep writing, just keep writing, writing, writing…! (Sing that in Dory’s voice.)