Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Process Examination #12: Juggling Two Projects

I've always been a multi-tasker, sometimes compulsively so. It's very rare that my brain will actually allow me to buckle down and focus completely on one thing. At the very least, I require background music and/or noise for some part of my brain to analyze and follow while the rest of the gray matter addresses the primary task at hand. So I was surprised when, early on the writing of THUMB, I was unable to work on the revisions for another story. But I duly noted the chaos that ensued from attempting to pre-write and start a draft at the same time as revising a completely different manuscript. And I set aside the revisions for later.

Now, here I am making remarkable headway in two projects at once, one of which is a rewrite of more extensive proportions than I had originally thought it would be. And I'm thriving. The key for this success has been to keep the two projects divided by time of day that I work on them. I work on PPR during Drew's naps, and I work on THUMB in the evenings. Reserving the time for both projects had allowed me to focus and not get so hung up on the little stumbles.

I'm reminded of how much I enjoyed research as an undergrad, juggling two different labs in two different states between semesters and breaks. I could concentrate on the project in front of me, shrug away the annoyance of a setback and focus on getting data. All because I knew I would be setting aside the frustrations in front me in favor of another project in just a few months, and that I could come back to the current project with refreshed energy and perspective. (Seriously, there are times I wish I could be paid to be an undergrad researcher, complete with a full course load; I think it was the most successful "career" I've ever had.)

I think the key to this successful juggling is that both projects are well underway. THUMB is just about out of Act One and PPR was already complete in draft form (of course, the departure from the draft is a bit more extensive than I had thought it would be; still, I know where I'm going and what needs to be tweaked to get me there because I've already traversed this particular path). I don't think the juggling would work if I were trying to start a new novel or even working on an already started novel (such as SoZ) as that's just too much to ask of my brain.

(Another aside, it took the ickiness of my first trimester to understand that it is possible to demand too much of my brain while multi-tasking. That led to me running a red light and totalling our car while I was fourteen weeks pregnant. I can still remember quite clearly the moment when I tried to add one more thought to the mix in my brain and my brain just went mushy and came up empty until I realized the car next to me was breaking hard, which meant I should likely be doing the same. Only I was a bit too slow on the uptake.)

So with two projects feeding off of each other, I have plenty of faith that I can reach my goals quite handily for these two projects. Here is the state of their progress:

THUMB: 32,072 of 100,000

PPR: 8,642 of 30,000

Go me and my mad juggling skillz.


Joel said...

Go, Kellie, Go!

Kellie said...

Thanks, Joel!