Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Me? A Multi-Tasking Writer? (December Theme from Jody Feldman)

When I was trying to find my way with this writing thing (still am, always will be, by the way) I got labeled as a multi-tasker. The fact is, I’ve always been able to juggle many things in my life on any given day (writing, cooking, chauffeuring, volunteering, Skyping, doing school visits, working puzzles, watching TV/movies, etc.), but that wasn’t the reason for the label. In my early critique group times, I would work on a first draft in the mornings then, in the afternoons, edit something I’d brought to The End. At the same time, I was likely coming up with a new idea. And so I bought into the label.

To keep the charade going, I found myself carving out time every day to both draft and revise. That’s who I was, right? My group had labeled me with a sticker of awe, so I wore it with a sense of pride.

I’d love to tell you about a certain epiphany-laden moment when I realized that it takes one mindset to splash new material all over the page, another to comb through scenes for big-picture issues, and a third to target minute imperfections, but it turns out I had to learn the long way. One day or another, during a period when I was completely absorbed in a shiny first draft, I chucked aside the revision to string together several 5,000-word+ days in a row. I may have decided my writing had improved or I was breathing easier without the scattershot method or I was tired of the multi-tasking catchphrase. I’m not sure. I’m only sure, however, there was no aha! moment.

The aha! moment came the next time a critique mate was extolling my ability to juggle all these stories at the same time. That’s when I stopped her. “I used to think I could do that,” I said, “but it turns out I was just faking it.”

As for my sense of pride at having to admit I was only mortal? Funny thing, I felt even more proud that I had reclaimed my true process from the clutches of vanity.

7 comments:

  1. Yes! I, too, have had to learn to focus on one project at a time...

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    1. Someone, long ago, had probably mentioned that that one-project rule might be wise, but sometimes you simply need to learn on your own.

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  2. Yay for reclaiming your true process. I sometimes have to jump from project to project when I'm working on freelance assignments, but I do my best work when I get to focus on one thing at a time.

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    1. That assignment thing pays some good bills, I know, but when it keeps you from doing what you really want to do ... that's hard.

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  3. Such great reminders for me, Jody! The juggling thing can be incredibly overwhelming!

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    1. Not to mention, an ugly reminder of how uncoordinated you are ... or I am, that is :)

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  4. I'm working on this very same issue, Jody. My problem is I want to do so many things. I think 2014 needs to be my year of prioritizing! I also think trying to live our lives according to the shoulds and ought-tos is hazardous and very difficult to overcome.

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