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Productivity

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by BWFoster78, Feb 21, 2014.

  1. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    The last two weeks have been among my most productive since I started writing seriously a couple of years ago. I think this increase is because of something counterintuitive - an increased number of projects.

    Anyone else find that working on more than one thing at a time helps you get more accomplished, not just overall, but on your main WIP?

    What I'm finding is that, when I get stuck on one project, moving to the other one helps get me unstuck. Once I get in a good rhythm, it's easy to go back to the first one and get stuff done.

    I've been trying to avoid starting new works so that I could concentrate on my novel. Perhaps that was a mistake.
     
    Philip Overby likes this.
  2. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I do find this helps me, but also puts me in a situation where I have to prioritize. Anyone that knows me is that I take on several projects at a time, to the point where I've had people say, "Geez, you're really going to try all of that?" Well, yes, I am.

    The problem that comes for me is deciding when something has to be sacrificed. For instance, I'm writing three different stories for anthologies at the moment, doing a genre challenge, working on a 52 first chapter project and doing Recharge Your Novel Month (something I came up with here) with several other Mythic Scribes members. What I've found is that my novel, or my main WIP, has skyrocketed in productivity. However, my other projects have been stalled or reduced significantly while I try to reach the end of my first draft. I guess the best thing about doing multiple projects is that it has increased my productivity. The bad thing is that I have to start saying to myself, "OK, time to work on _______ now. I have to work on this now." It causes me a little stress, but nothing Earth-shattering.

    What I find, is jumping from a major project to a minor one does allow me to get unstuck as well. When fresh words flow out, they tend to rejuvenate something that hasn't felt as fresh. When you work on a novel for a long time, it can become a chore to get to the end for some people. I don't find that the case anymore for me because if I do get stuck for a short time, I can keep the writing juices flowing with something else.

    So yeah, I agree. It's not for everyone, but it can definitely help if you find working on one thing just doesn't work for you. Which I guess it doesn't for me either.
     
  3. Curatia

    Curatia Dreamer

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    Lowan and I also find that working on more than one project at a time helps productivity. We prefer to be rough drafting one story, editing the last, and developing the next all at the same time. As you said, when you get stuck on one project, having another to jump to lets you keep accomplishing things while loosening up the creative juices. We find that in series writing, working on 3 stories at a time helps us concentrate on the plot and character arcs at the meta level rather than just seeing the arc in each book as a separate entity.
     
    A. E. Lowan likes this.
  4. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    I think that 3 projects is just about perfect. I wouldn't want to be in Phil's situation where I'm trying to balance a half dozen or more. I also think that having only one of the projects be a novel is a good thing. It's nice to be able to move something over to the "done" column every once in a while.
     
  5. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    It's not as bad as it sounds. For me, I have one major long term project. That is usually my novel. Then, I'll have a second long term project that is not as important and I just work on when I feel like it. Having three short stories due at the same time isn't very common for me, so that's kind of a rare occurrence. Hoping to fix that very soon...by writing of course! :)
     
  6. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I can't remember a time where I didn't have at least three things going, so I don't have a frame of reference for a direct comparison, but I do find it nice to have different works of different types to move between.
     
  7. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    Brian,

    I worked a lot like you for years, one project at a time. Presently, I've got three projects going but this is the first time I've allowed myself to take on more. I have the novel I've been working on for awhile, which is nearing the 100k mark, I've got the first couple installments completed for a series that I'm co-writing with a few others, and a short story anthology. Each of these projects is distinct and different from the others.

    I'm not sure yet how this has impacted productivity. It's a bit too early in the process for me to tell. Due to time expectations my focus and priorities have shifted away from the novel and towards the shorter projects. I do like the fresh feeling that comes from switching quickly from one project to the next. I also enjoy the added time to mull over the directions I want to take on whatever projects are sitting on the back burner. Still, there is a big of self-induced guilt I experience from the slowing down of the novel. As this is the first time I've worked on simultaneous projects, I'm not in a position to yet judge the impact on productivity. There are positives though, outside of production alone.

    Time will tell.
     
  8. SeverinR

    SeverinR Vala

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    I don't think I could ever work under a deadline.
    I have had up to 4 writing projects going at once, but there was no pressure to get one done.
    It was write which ever story was most prominent in my mind.

    I can't force anyone story to flow.

    I am non-productive currently because it is so hard to get my laptop into a place I can write comfortably.
    The battery won't hold a charge, the keyboard doesn't work and the scrolling device is broke. So I have a seperate keyboard, wireless mouse, and everytime I move the laptop the computer shuts down(poor connection to cord).
    I have the laptop sitting on a box fan so I can move it all as one unit, if I need it the fan could be used to cool the computer but haven't needed it this winter...yet.

    I have 4 or 5 stories I need to finish editing and two stories to finish.
     
  9. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    TAS,

    I found myself getting bogged down on my novel. I'd open up a chapter to edit, get a few lines in, and think, "This is complete crap." I'd then close it and not get anything done on it for the rest of the day.

    Now, when I get disgusted editing, I move on to writing the other project. After a while doing that and getting into a groove, I can easily switch back to the novel.

    Therefore, I'm actually getting more done each day even on the big project.

    I set a goal each day for each project. For the last two weeks, I'm missed my goal on lowest priority project only twice, completing my goals on the other two each of those days and on all three every other day. It's too early to tell if this will become a trend for me, however. I've had short bursts of extreme productivity before. I'm just hoping that this time it's more substainable.
     
  10. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    I find that having a deadline, especially when I'm accountable to other people, usually helps me get stuff complete.
     
  11. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    I don't think I could work on more than one project in a day or session. What I'm doing currently is working on one chapter, or scene, and staying with that to completion, then moving to the next project. So I'm only switching once every week or so. Whichever project I choose largely depends on any time constraints. Occasionally the choice is determined by my desire to write a scene, but normally it's time, which is why the shorter projects have taken over in priority.

    Maybe I should try switching several times a session. My concern would be that the work would blend together and become too similar. I tend to be a very focused writer, shifting gears effectively and still maintaining distinctions between the projects is important to me. I want my characters and their story arcs to remain distinct.
     
  12. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    It's like that old saying, "If you want something done, give the job to someone who doesn't have time to do it."

    When I'm working on multiple things--and I think this is for people in general too--you realize you don't have time to dick around. So you have to make efficient use of your time or stuff doesn't get done. You can't spend a few hours moving words around in a sentence or paragraph because it doesn't sound quite right. You have to learn to accept good enough, for now, and move on. So you don't tend to over analyse your writing or doubt yourself because there's not time to.

    I agree that one project can help with the other. I generally like to write one project while planning another. I may slip in a short story along the way, but I find that productivity in general doesn't increase too much for me, at least not in the long run. In the short run, I can have large spikes. Over the years, I've learned how I tick as a writer, and I know how to get myself going, so I'm pretty disciplined and consistent with my production when I'm into a project or projects.

    When I have multiple projects, what I've found works for me is, multiple writing sessions during the day, usually morning and evening or evening and late night. If I'm really pressed, I'll try to make time for a session in the afternoon too. I find that it's easier to switch projects this way because each session is like a fresh start, a mental reset, allowing me to focus in on the story in front of me without being distracted by what I was working on before. But this is a lot easier to do since I'm single.
     
  13. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    I think it depends on what problem you're trying to solve. Switching works for me because I need that break from the project that I keep getting stuck on.

    I don't seem to have a problem, however, slipping from one character/work to another. When you work on a piece having multiple POVs, do you find it hard to switch character voice? If not, it might not be as big a deal as you fear. If so, switching mid-stream would probably be a bad idea.
     
  14. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    This is a good point as well. I loved the quote.
     
  15. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    No it isn't a problem, but with the six POVs in my novel length work I don't move onto the next until the POV's chapter is completed (one POV per chapter). So shifting gears starts at the completion of a full scene.
     
  16. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    I took a break from my novel recently and worked on a short story for about two months. It was a nice change of pace and it was great to finish something. Also, I was really eager and motivated on getting started on my WIP again and that, couple with the Recharge Month that Phil mentioned, mean I've been extremely productive lately.
    Just a simple thing as having one hour a day set off to writing has been very helpful. I don't think I'm quite ready to start taking on a second project to write in parallel just yet, but I will probably give it a go further down the line - just to see what it's like.
     
  17. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    Hmmm...

    I spent the first half of this month plodding very slowly through the rewrite of 'Empire'. Ten bloody days to do over ONE chapter (then again, this is a rewrite for consistency and plothole fixing, not composition).

    Out of sheer frustration, I turned my attention to rewrites of other projects; minor tweaking on the one, major effort on the other. I do seem to be picking up speed...but its REWRITES (then I have to run all this through the online grammar checkers)...
     
  18. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    Just knocked one project in the head. Now I only have my novel and two other smaller projects (with two other less important long-term mini-projects.) See? It's not so bad! :)
     
  19. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

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    I like the idea of working on multiple projects all at once. The problem is that even though I come up with new story ideas all the time, they almost all share certain similarities. In fact most of them feel like evolutions or reconfigurations of the same small number of ideas that dominate my mind. It's like I have a small number of subjects I want to write about, but can't make up my mind on the perfect story for each.

    I would sort the vast majority of my story ideas into two categories:

    1) Those set in ancient Egypt or a fantastical analog thereof.

    2) Those featuring dinosaurs or other prehistoric wildlife in a more "tribal" setting.

    I suppose I could settle on two projects at one moment, the first with the Egyptians and the other with the dinosaurs (assuming I don't mix them together in the same story). But then settling on a plot for each is going to be a whole 'nother headache.
     
  20. Bansidhe

    Bansidhe Minstrel

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    I totally agree, Foster. I usually have three projects going at a time--one in development, one in drafting status, and one in revision. I have a rather long production queue over the next few years, but by rotating and taking a breather from longer projects I can go back to them with fresh perspective. I also let a finished rough draft marinate a while before revisions, so I'm never revising a project I've just drafted--which allows me to get yet more projects out the door. The three-project cycle gives me the sense of balance my inner geek craves.
     
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