The last couple of weeks I’ve been having a ridiculous time focusing on any one project. As much as it irks me, I also know there’s about a dozen different reasons my focus has vanished. Whether it’s stress, the fact the weather is changing, or maybe I just haven’t been eating as well as I should, the fact is my focus is gone. Pondering the reasons why I have zero ability to stick to one project also lead me into wondering why I’d determined I could only work on one at a time.
I am a serial un-finisher. I don’t want to even attempt putting a number on the drafts that are sitting in my writing folder that will probably never hit ‘the end’. I’ve long since learned when working on a novel that if I don’t manage to make it to chapter ten in a fairly short order…that poor novel is probably never going to make it to the end. I’ve done this so many times I can pinpoint the make or break point and it’s usually chapter ten. Anytime I start getting distracted before chapter ten and we run into the secondary problem:
Shiny New Project Syndrome. Oh boy is this one my big one. Because that idea seems so brilliant and I’ve hit a slow spot in the current project anyways, so maybe if I just write a little bit on it–and now I have six chapters of a new project and you guessed it, the original story is still sitting somewhere below chapter ten. I might eventually open up that project again and look at it, which leads me to:
Chronic restarting. I’ve mentioned a couple of times before that I’m a pantser or discovery writer, so I tend to just write and figure I’ll fix it later. The problem is, this leads to some plot holes, which make more sense if Character A is actually married to Person B, and then that sends me down a rabbit hole of wanting to see how that interaction would actually look, never mind putting that note down to work on it during edits. I’ve already long-since learned that trying to edit while I write is a bad idea for me.
All of this, I’ve learned, while not entirely alleviated, helps if I’m focusing on a singular project at a time–be that a high fantasy dripping with magic and honorable young princesses, or a sci-fi with a tech-savvy engineer running from an corrupt corporate overlord. Which is where we run into the problem where my ability to focus has taken a swandive down the drain.
While I’m trying to pinpoint the source of whatever is effectively stopping up my focus, I’m curious: What are the reasons you have for working on one or multiple stories at a time?