Writing Techniques: Multitasking

I’m going to admit this straight up; I cannot multitask. It is a persistent challenge for me.

I also don’t know how people can multitask. I’m not talking about multitasking in everyday life. Like, I can juggle laundry and chores with life stuff and all that…. on a good day, anyway. But I cannot do other things while I’m writing. Like, this is my screen right now:

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I’m watching a UK panel show while writing this blog post. As such, it is going to take me approximately 489 hours to finish this post, because I will inevitably watch something else after this video is done, which will reduce my writing pace to a crawl. And for maximum productivity, I have found that I cannot multitask like that if I want to accomplish anything.

I used to watch TV or Youtube or Netflix or whatever while I was editing or working on a manuscript, but I’ve come to realize that I can’t do that if I want to get things done. I end up paying too much attention to one thing and not enough to the other, and it flips back and forth and back and forth until it destroys my concentration. Even if I do manage to slog through an editing session while catching up on my stories, my attention is never focused 100% where it needs to be, which makes for less than satisfactory results. I can pop on some music to help fuel the inspiration; anything else and I’ll be working at a snail’s pace with frequent distractions. Some people might be able to multitask like that, or watch a movie while working on writing, but I cannot divide my attention in such a way and still produce my best work.

Multitasking by juggling multiple writing projects at the same time, however, is a different story – but still a challenge. Inspiration is fickle, and the well of ideas can run dry after being dipped into too often. For example, I currently have a primary project that is in the revising/pre-query stage, but there are times where I feel burnt out on it; like all my motivation is spent and I can’t muster the right level of attention needed to achieve my best work.

To combat this, I can’t throw myself into a massive new project – if I do that, I’ll get too focused on something new, and alas, I am not an octopus capable of extending eight limbs to divide my efforts in multiple directions. When motivation starts to fray, I either walk away for a bit to clear my head, or I’ll draft out some blog posts. Sometimes, to help encourage myself to return to that main project, I’ll jot down some freewrites about the characters to examine situations in a different way, especially when I hit a wall and don’t know which way to take a particular plotline. Sometimes I’ll re-imagine a scene from a different perspective, to gain new insight on characters and relationships. Occasionally, I’ll work on preliminary stages or snippets for a new project, but I won’t go too in-depth with it – just the framework, to try and get creative juices flowing again. It’s like being a spider with multiple webs, but more work is put into fortifying one web until it is complete, while the others come together at a different pace.

Even if I am juggling multiple projects at once, which is generally the case, the majority of my focus remains on one of those projects… the danger of multitasking can stretch my attention too thin, and have a negative impact on my writing. I do wonder how other writers deal with multitasking – it might be a challenge for me, and effortless for another. But I do know for sure that if I want to do my best, I need to put emphasis on focus, and must minimize potential distraction in any way possible.

SIDE NOTE: I’m taking my novel I’m With You on a virtual book tour via RABT book tours next month! Stay tuned for updates!

I’m With You

Back in 2011, I sat down at my computer and started to write.

The seeds were planted years before, while I was still in high school. Ideas took root inside my head– vague forms and muddled shapes, random names and snapshot images — but they did not receive the nourishment or sustenance required to thrive. So they stayed in my head, swirling and tumbling around, some fading away, others grabbing hold.

Finally, when I sat down in my god-awful pink computer chair and set my fingers on the keyboard one afternoon in 2011, I decided to let it all out. Fridays became my “writing days,” so when classes ended for the day, I planted myself in my “office,” (actually a little nook in the kitchen) and wrote as much as I wanted, often for hours on end.

Completing I’m With You has been a long process — two years, in between classes and two jobs. Once I’d finished it, I let it sit on my computer, untouched, for over a year. I’ve wanted to write books since junior high, when I realized I was too squeamish to be a veterinarian, but I just… never thought to submit the manuscript anywhere. I did look up publishing sources on occasion, but every resource I looked at seemed so discouraging. It seemed impossible to achieve, and that, coupled with a post-graduation slump, didn’t do much for my confidence. Instead of trying to make my dream happen, I thought, “Why bother?” and didn’t even try for fear of failure.

Then, I googled “self-publishing” on a whim one evening in late 2014 and stumbled across the website for Dragon Tree Books and a link for their Indie Genius contest, which included a publishing package. I scanned the details, realized that I had a few days until the deadline, and let the idea roll around in my noggin for a few hours. “Why bother?” became, “Why not?” I blew the dust off of I’m With You and spruced it up a bit.

I sent it in. And it won.

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The cover! (art by Elijah Meyer)

I’m With You has spent almost two additional years going through the editing process and getting whipped into shape, thanks to a lot of helpful hands from the folks at Dragon Tree Books, especially Jon, who fielded my many emails and was extremely helpful with the production side of the publication process, Elijah, who did the awesome cover-art and formatting, and Erica, my insightful editor who made suggestions on how to improve my work that I never would have noticed without her steering me in the right direction. When I had questions, they had answers. I thought self-publishing meant going through the process alone, trying to slog through all the details solo, but this very much felt like a team effort, and I’m With You is only out there now because of the help I had along the way.

Character names have changed, plot points clarified, and scenes taken out, added, and completely swapped around, but the core of I’m With You has stayed the same since I first started typing it up in 2011. It’s a YA novel about family, friendship, perseverance, and overcoming loss, and I’m thrilled to have it finally in print!

You can buy I’m With Youhere! (Amazon) and here! (Barnes and Noble)

E-book version coming extremely soon, it is still processing.

More links to follow, and more info available on my Published Works page!