5 Reasons to Work on Multiple Projects – The Benefits of Divided Attention

Let me ask you a question – do you work on multiple creative projects at the same time, or do you have a sole focus from start to finish?

A friend of mine asked me this question recently, and we realized we’re in completely different camps on the matter. I’m definitely in the former.

Currently I’m 1) drafting a novel, 2) working on revising and publishing another, 3) editing, revising and submitting short stories to various magazines and sites, 4) querying two novels, and I’m 5) technically waiting to hear back about at least two projects. Also, 6) I should really re-read and revise a novel I wrote last winter.

I can’t imagine doing it any other way. My friend said they work on one single project from start to finish, from drafting all the way through to publishing, before they even consider doing anything else. That’s wild to me, and I figured I’d write up a little post on why I think it’s highly beneficial to work on many things a time.

5 Great Reasons to Work on Multiple Projects At The Same Time:

  1. It’s Motivating
    • There’s nothing that’s as much fun to do as writing, when it is fun. I think we all experience that, regardless of how we structure our work. For me, it’s quite logical then that it’s more fun to have more fun. Being able to jump from one fun project to another just enhances the whole experience for me. It makes me more eager to put in more work, because I want to see them all come to life.
  2. It Gives You and Your Work Time to Rest
    • I’m a big believer in the letting your first draft rest for a while method of writing. I think I picked it up from Stephen King, and it just makes sense to me. When I’m done with a first draft, I save it, put it away somewhere where I know where to find it and know that I have multiple backups, then I go do something else. It gives me some time off, but it also gives the project some time off. When I come back to re-read it, I’m not locked into that way of thinking, and I see and read things more clearly. Maybe a section doesn’t work anymore. Maybe a character doesn’t actually come across the way I hoped. It’s much easier to start editing after some time away from a project.
  3. Less Downtime
    • This one’s quite obvious: at some point you’re going to have to send your stuff away, be it to critique partners, beta readers or editors. What do you do in the meantime? Nothing? That’s fine if you need that break, it healthy to take a step away and focus on something else occasionally, but I like to use those moments to maybe read through that first draft I had lying around for a few months (see point 2), or maybe outline a new project – which sometimes feels like a break in itself!
  4. Avoid Slumps
    • This one’s related to point 1, because there’s nothing more demotivating than when work is hard and you don’t feel like you’re getting anywhere. Perhaps you have methods of getting through that by brainstorming around your problem or just pushing on, but having a secondary project to switch to can be a very useful diversion. Not only are you giving yourself time off from your main project, but you’re also getting more of something else done.
  5. Multiple Payoffs
    • Maybe this way of working makes every project take longer, but it also means that you’re going to have more things that are slowly nearing completion. And I don’t know about you, but I quite like the feeling of having multiple things that I know are getting finished and ready to see the world. It feels like I’m accomplishing more things at once!

How do you structure your work? Are you a multitasker like me or do you prefer to have a sole purpose? Have you tried both methods and decided to stick with one or the other? Let me know in the comments!

Oh, and don’t forget to check out my books, pre-order my upcoming psychological thriller At The Gate, and sign up for my newsletter to get a free book!

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