I do quite a lot of multi-tasking at work, mostly when people phone me with urgent questions about why their password doesn’t work as I juggle with statistics or try to wrestle a recalcitrant Crystal Report into submission.
I try to avoid doing it with writing. I can tie myself in stubborn enough knots with one plot, so I really don’t need to have five others vying for position at the front of my mind at the same time. Of course I do have a secret compartment at the back of my brain for vague story ideas that I might work on at some point, but that doesn’t really count as multi-tasking. It’s more like a familiar tune playing somewhere in the background which I would only notice if it stopped.
For various reasons I am currently working on three writing tasks at once. I think the only saving grace is that they are different types of task. But even so, I can’t help feeling each of them would progress more satisfactorily if I concentrated on it to the exclusion of everything else.
It’s partly the fault of Lulu – not the Glaswegian singer but the printing company. Once i had finished my first set of edits of ‘The Four Seasons Quest’ last Sunday, I prepared the file for printing and ordered a copy from Lulu. I do this for several reasons:
- seeing the novel in print is in itself very encouraging
- reading through it quite quickly as if it were a published book helps me to pick up the remaining plot glitches
- reading through it again very slowly helps me to pick up the remaining typos
- I can stick post-its in it to mark the places where I have to make changes
- it is less hassle than actually trusting my home printer to print 250 pages without a paper jam or urgent ink emergency.
Having ordered the paper copy, I then convinced myself I would have time to write a novella for a projected anthology before the paperback actually arrived. In addition I started to make more detailed notes for my projected NaNoWriMo novel (‘Pitkirtly VII’ – the notes haven’t yet become detailed enough for me to choose a title) and became quite enthused about that, which is always a good feeling.
On Monday, I started to write the novella (more on this later), for which, uncharacteristically, I already had an outline and research notes. On Tuesday the paperback copy arrived from Lulu. Of course it was too much to expect that I would meekly put it aside and write more of the novella before embarking on my sequence of readings. So here I am on Saturday trying to divide my time fairly amongst the three projects. I think only ruthless scheduling will help me get through this!
Congratulations to Lulu on this excellent service. But why, oh why did you do it?!
Coincidentally we now also have a nightmare scenario in my theatre group, which is that preparations for the annual pantomime have begun while we’re still working on the October show! More on this story later too.