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I find myself going to Montreal...

On fairly short notice, for the weekend. For ConCept, which is the 13-14th of November.

I've been thinking a bit about a couple of questions asked elsewhere, vis a vis writing, and will post when I get home; I'm leaving on the overnight train (and mourning the loss of my beloved sections; they've changed their trains, and now offer rooms and deluxe rooms, but no sections!), and will arrive at some very early hour, which is made bearable only by the promised company.

I'm attempting to pack now. I am discovering the writing-avoidance, like packing-avoidance, is built-in. Saw leahbobet at work today, where, in discussing the "post a line from a work in progress" meme on LJ, I expressed my utter astonishment at just how many works people have in progress at one time. I was never, ever capable of this; call it over-focus. The most that I will have "in progress" at one time are two projects -- and in that case it's because I've put the one in project on hold to meet a different deadline, which I will meet before returning to the work in progress. I didn't always tend to be quite so focused; there was a time when I could work on both a novel and a short story (but only one of each) at the same time, doing one in the morning and the other in the evening. That would be my definition of multi-tasking; I've never had a dozen projects on the go at the same time.

To everyone who has more than one, how does that work for you?

More later.

Comments

( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
janni
Nov. 12th, 2004 04:24 pm (UTC)
"Work in progress" is perhaps a misnomer in my case. All but one of the sentences I posted were from "works I started and then set aside until I'm ready to work on them more seriously."

I write lots of openings, often in a white heat; then set them aside, think about them, let them stew, and return to them later, sometimes years later.
lnhammer
Nov. 12th, 2004 06:14 pm (UTC)
I'm like this, too. But most of what I posted were works drafted then set aside to steep before revising (or figure out how to revise) — which were many more than I expected. Only a couple don't have at least one draft down on paper.

---L.
alfreda89
Nov. 14th, 2004 09:41 am (UTC)
Ditto.

The thing I'm really working on is a class on writing synopses, distilled from Pam McCutcheon's fine book. And pushing her book. (Convention 19th-21st)

Next will be an Alfreda novel, not quoted from...the damn thing is, I have to wait until she gives me the first line of a chapter. Not possible first lines...THE first line.

It will probably come at 10:00 pm at night. I will write it down, and the next AM--boom! Scenes start coming.

In other words, a lot of head back story must be going on. Like you, I don't think I could actively work on a lot of things at one time.

Hope it's a good con--
jediboadicea
Nov. 12th, 2004 05:46 pm (UTC)
To everyone who has more than one, how does that work for you?

Like crap. Alas.

But I do have to echo the person who commented above when I say that the majority of the time, most of those "works in progress" are actually ideas comprised almost entirely of notes and maybe the first few pages; stories to be fleshed out at a later time rather than stuff currently "in the works." Still, even eliminating those, I usually have about three to four stories of all stripes and sizes on which I currently wish to be working, and will work on whenever the opportunity or inspiration strikes.

I've heard some people say that this is a good arrangement for those times when you just feel "stuck." Work on something else for a while, they say. If only that were the reason. < wry g > In my case, my sense of focus is simply painfully subject to whim. I work constantly on trying to control this "multi-tasking" urge, because it means that everything takes four times as long to complete. Needless to say I have not been as successful as I would like. When I have anything good to report on that front, I'm sure I'll be crowing it for all to hear. :)
sleary
Nov. 17th, 2004 07:12 am (UTC)
Precisely.
blythe025
Nov. 12th, 2004 07:28 pm (UTC)
I can't write more than one or two things at a time, otherwise I lose focus.

If I'm working on two, one will be a work in progress, the other will be in the world building stage, or the editing stage. I can't work on two projects in the same stage of writing.

But if I get stuck on something, I'll lay it aside and work on something else, which is sort of like working on several projects at once.
(Deleted comment)
stakebait
Nov. 12th, 2004 09:16 pm (UTC)
It only works for me if they're different enough to be in different mental boxes. I can have a kids story, a fanfic, and a fantasy novel in progress all at once, and I work on the one I'm in the mood for at the moment. (Or three fanfics, in sufficiently different fandoms/moods/characters.)

Also I tend to use "in progress" to mean "neither finished nor abandoned". It doesn't mean I'm working on them all every day, or in alternation -- I tend to binge on something till I hit a stopping point, then set it aside to clear and work on something else in the meantime. And then there are deadlines which become priority interrupts -- whatever I was working on before has to take a back seat to the story due tomorrow.
merriehaskell
Nov. 12th, 2004 10:06 pm (UTC)
Yep, what stakebait said and what janni said, and so on... They may be in progress, but they're not all occupying the same front-of-brain space.
verdandiweaves
Nov. 13th, 2004 03:36 am (UTC)
Typically, I have a work in progress which is contracted, then I have another project going because it is what I want to write. :)
If I'm writing a play, it will be there in the background, because I write plays slower than a slug in treacle.
I do also have a couple of projects which are half written that I go back to occasionally. These come under the heading of 'stuff wot I writ earlier n hav' good ideas in 'em but hav' 'it insummountable bumps for the present.'
What I find steals time and focus is the business-y side of writing - though this could be because I don't have an agent (yet). :)
domynoe
Nov. 13th, 2004 09:02 am (UTC)
ADHD and multi-tasking
For me, multiple works is almost a necessity. I actually only get things done if I can "control" my distractibility. I'm ADHD and have most of the classic symtoms for adults - high distractibility and difficulty in finishing long term projects being the ones with the most profound affect on my life and my writing. I'm fortunate that I don't have the hyperactivity component to a high degree. I also tend to think of at least a dozen things at the same time at about 100 miles per hour (seriously, I did a timed stream of consciousness exercise once and it was just plain frightening what went through my mind in the space of 10 minutes that I could capture on paper . . . and knowing there was a whole lot more than I couldn't is even more frightening!). The upside of the way my brain works is great creativity and lots of cool ideas; the down side of the way my brain works is great creativity and lots of ideas. ;) Multiple projects also help control the boredom factor most people with ADHD have to deal with as well.

When I finally figured out how I need to write (which sounds odd, I'm sure), I focused on one book so I could work with the process without getting confused by being in different places in different books. Since then, I've decided that it might be best to work on all the books in a single series at once if possible so I can deal with the foreshadowing, make sure all the books involved will work plot-wise (which heps me determine if anything needs to be combined), and keep them as fairly consistent as possible. I also usually have at least 3 or more shorts in process - but these get fast drafted (rough draft written as fast as possible), set aside, revised, set aside, revised, posted to my crit group, etc. Shorts can actually take me over a year to get done even though the fast draft is finished in one sitting.

How do I work with multiple projects? I guess the best way to describe it is to say each is a break from the others. I work on one in high focus until I'm tired of it, frustrated with it, or too distracted to deal with whatever level that project is at, then I switch to one of the others. Which one depends on where the project is at and why I need to switch. When I'm ready I go back to the previous project (and it's usually the ones in the most intense phase of revising for me - the line by line, language stuff - that I need a break from).

While this actually helps me keep at a project that I might just toss aside (and all of them would eventually get tossed aside if I stayed on them too long, so it's not a project-specific problem), it has the downside of making the overall process slower. So, my first book is still in revision while I work on the nitty stuff.

All of which probably didn't explain much and helped even less. lol
rachelmanija
Nov. 13th, 2004 11:01 am (UTC)
I usually have one thing I think of as my primary project, and a handful of secondary ones. This is easier to explain with a real-time snapshot of what I'm doing right now:

Primary project: Rewriting the memoir according to my editor's notes. This doesn't take the level of total concentration that writing the first draft or new material does, but it's what I have a contract for and need to get out soonest, so that's going to take about eighty-five percent of my writing time till it's done.

Secondary project # 1: Secret Project # 1, which is a script of sorts. Not being actively worked on at the moment, but could bounce into being the primary project at any time after the memoir is finished, or not, depending on whether I get a contract for it. (Right now it's on spec but being seriously considered.)

Secondary project # 2: A short story which is due at the end of December, and which is currently giving me the highest level of creative enjoyment, because it's a new project and I'm writing it for the first time (as opposed to having a finished draft which I'm re-writing.) But it's not for pay.

There are other secondary projects, but none being actively worked on or with the likelihood of needing to be actively worked on this month. (Inactively worked on = thinking or discussing them, but not actually writing anything down other than maybe some notes.)

I started working like this years ago when I was writing a novel in my off hours and my day job was writing TV. Necessity is the mother of invention, but also, as it turned out, burn-out.

All the same, when I'm on a less frenzied schedule I find that having one project to turn to when I'm sick of another has upped my productivity enormously. Unfortunately, it's cut down on my reading time. I now spend more time writing than reading, and this seems wrong somehow.


coffeeandink
Nov. 16th, 2004 08:24 am (UTC)
truepenny said that at some point she realized she was getting the same kind of satisfaction from writing that she used to get from reading -- I think she said something like it had become her default activity, or default comfort activity, although she phrased it better -- and that made a lot of sense to me, as a necessary part of evolution as a writer, either as the cause or the result of committing yourself to making time for writing.

Like most of the other people commenting, "in progress" just means "neither finished nor abandoned" for me, although things shift their places in queue. I also have things I consider in queue but not in progress, because I haven't written any of them, although I may have a sentence or a paragraph in my head. But generally they're unwritten and still accumulating the necessary critical mass.
msagara
Nov. 16th, 2004 09:38 am (UTC)
truepenny said that at some point she realized she was getting the same kind of satisfaction from writing that she used to get from reading -- I think she said something like it had become her default activity, or default comfort activity, although she phrased it better -- and that made a lot of sense to me, as a necessary part of evolution as a writer, either as the cause or the result of committing yourself to making time for writing.

Actually, this has never happened to me; it's work. There are times when it's a hypnotic, compulsive, or even joyful work -- but boy, the slogs... the swamps... I would throw away whole books before I'd put up with that much fear and uncertainty in my reading <wry g>. I want to be truepenny.
matociquala
Nov. 13th, 2004 01:51 pm (UTC)
I generally have a number of works in progress, because I find it counterproductive to work straight through on a single project. Generally, I write a few thousand words (between three and ten) of a book, and then stick it aside to ripen while I work on other things. I'm not actually *writing* on multiple books at one time (usually only two, and one of them will take over at some point and push the other one out for a while) but I have a lot of books cooking.

My great life's terror is not that I'll run out of ideas, but that I'll get hit by a truck before I get my ideas written....
mrissa
Nov. 15th, 2004 04:53 am (UTC)
Yes, me, too, Bear, on all of that.

Also, I need to be working on new material on some project when I'm doing heavy revisions, or my brain bogs itself down and I get mopey.
zhaneel69
Nov. 13th, 2004 03:11 pm (UTC)
It is hard for me. I have about 4 stories that are in progress currently. "In progress" means that they are finished up on a draft status but need rewriting/editing.

I only write one at a time. I try very hard not to have more than one unfinished story at a time. If I do, I only work on one per day [not that I write everyday] or try to pick one to finish.

This is part of the reason why I'm against starting a novel. I'm not sure how much else I could do at the same time.

Zhaneel
mmarques
Nov. 14th, 2004 07:26 pm (UTC)
Totally off-topic
I guess that's why I didn't see you at the book store on Saturday! I picked up Hunter's Death ... the back-of-book blurb on that book appeals to me more than did the blurb for Hunter's Oath.
msagara
Nov. 15th, 2004 01:33 pm (UTC)
Re: Totally off-topic
I guess that's why I didn't see you at the book store on Saturday! I picked up Hunter's Death ... the back-of-book blurb on that book appeals to me more than did the blurb for Hunter's Oath.

Yes <g>. I usually work Saturdays though, so it's a decent bet that if you come into the store on a Saturday, I'll be there. I have to go and look at the back of that one again. I've been thinking about cover blurbs in general, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was actually being asked for some input on the back copy of one of my upcoming books <wry g>.
maggiemotley
Nov. 15th, 2004 08:06 am (UTC)
For me too it's a single WIP or, literally, nothing. I need to either focus exclusively on one project or the muse becomes confused and feeds me rubbish.

Saying that, I do get snatches and glimpses of what will come next, and I have the project after the current one pretty fully planned. I just can't start to actually work on it or I'll dissipate my own fictive dream.
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