Writing Process

How Working on One Project at a Time is Helping My Writing

Photo byย Dustin Leeย onย Unsplash

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I am experimenting with working on one writing project at a time. The main reason for scaling down my number of projects I’m working on at once is to protect myself from burnout. My personality tends to send me into overdrive when I am excited about something and then fizzle out once I tire myself out to the point of exhaustion. When I reach that point, I find it is hard to complete anything at all.

I am finding that this one-project-at-a-time method keeps me motivated with my writing by demanding that I complete something. Actually accomplishing a goal (no matter how small it may seem) gives my mind the encouragement that it craves. Working through a writing project from beginning to end helps me to stay focused on that specific project, without being tempted to switch to another project when I get stuck. In the past, working on multiple projects results in me frantically alternating between them and feeling like I’m never really getting anywhere.

This past week and a half, I worked on a non-fiction essay submission for Women on Writing. My schedule dictated that I work on it just a few minutes at a time each day. Caring for our pets while Alex has been gone in Iowa, working around some staffing changes at my full-time job, and making time for family and friends has not left much time in the day for non-urgent tasks. My writing sessions were delegated to a precious 20 – 30 minutes on my lunch breaks, usually at the Starbucks around the corner from my work.

As you might imagine, 20 minutes each day is not a lot of time, but surprisingly, this writing time does add up. Some of the ways I utilized these segments of time were:

  • Brainstorming (listing out possibilities for essay topics, sketching out ideas for each possible topic, word-vomiting onto the page to see where my writing went)
  • Writing one paragraph at time
  • Editing for grammar, consistency, structural issues
  • Researching submission guidelines for the project
  • Formatting my submission to meet the requirements

On Friday night, the night of the deadline, I finally had time to give the piece a final run-through and spend an hour or so tying all the loose ends together. Shortly before the deadline, I hit the “submit” button.

The wave of relief that I experience finally submitting something is unmistakably one of the best feelings I experience in life. For me, this is when I feel I have fully accomplished a piece of writing, that I have said what I wanted to say. As my long-term goal is to move full-time into writing, submitting pieces is a necessary component to this writing path. Each time I go through the submission process, I feel one step closer to that goal.

After submitting my essay, I had the mental capacity to move onto my next goal, this blog post. Without the essay deadline to worry about any longer, I have been able to give this post my full attention, including drafting it and composing the final version.

With my second project for the week complete, it is time to move onto my next piece of writing!

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Do you find it easier to stick with one project or do you prefer spreading your writing time over multiple pieces? Leave a comment and share your advice with others!

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