Growing up, I was the kind of girl who was obsessive about stories. I devoured them like they were the juiciest cheeseburgers, and I always craved more. Naturally, that evolved into writing my own stories. But that’s a post for another day!
Instead, today I want to talk about something that has plagued me since my early writing days, all the way back in elementary and middle school. That’s right, I’ve been writing since elementary school.
As a kid, I was filled with ideas. They were in my dreams, they were in the television programs I watched, they were in the other books I read, they were in my life experiences. They collected like raindrops in my brain. They brewed and stewed and percolated.
However, the abundance of ideas that I almost always tended to have at once proved difficult at times. I would start writing something, then get distracted by one of these new shinies. Instead of focusing my mental energy on planning and plotting the work in progress, it shifted to thinking about this new idea. And you know what happened? The work in progress died. I turned all my attention and writing time to the new idea. Oh sure, occasionally I would halfway finish a story. But I never returned to it, never polished or relished or cherished it. I was too focused on the next big idea.
But things changed a few years ago, once I was in the thick of grad school. I started writing fast and finishing things (yes, in grad school. Writing became my escape from the stress and from difficult situations I couldn’t otherwise escape.). I made a decision, either consciously or unconsciously (I really couldn’t tell you if you asked now) to be serious about my writing. To finish ideas. To make them sparkle. And I wrote and completed three manuscript drafts in a year. Yeah, they may never go anywhere. I may be done with them now. Or for now. But I finished things.
However, I still had that same problem of how to juggle multiple ideas at once. I would still get new, captivating concepts while I was drafting. In fact, it’s happening to me right now. But I think I finally figured out a solution. Once again, it comes down to dedication and discipline.
So here’s my new way to juggle projects (and it’s working for me): I am not allowed to touch the new idea until I have added at least 1000 words to the old one. And in setting that one, unbreakable rule for myself, the days that I get to write and really focus on writing, I end up with over 2000 words in a sitting, half of the old manuscript and half of the new manuscript.
So what about you? Do you have this same problem? How do you manage multiple ideas and projects at once? Comment below with your stories and advice!