That Writing Life: Why Multitasking Doesn’t Work For Me

shutterstock_163180892.0In a world where we all have 50 things to do before breakfast, multitasking has become the norm. Let’s face it: we all do it. We have no choice. But if there is one thing I’ve learned as a writer, it is that multitasking doesn’t work. Let me say it again: IT DOESN’T WORK… or at least not for me.

There was a time when I felt that multitasking was the key to productivity. I would watch others completing two and three tasks at a time and think, “wow, they’re really a go-getter. Look at them getting things doing! Kicking butt and taking names!!” They made it look easy and, of course, if they can do it so can I. Right? WRONG!

For me, multitasking is like trying to run in quicksand. All my effort resulted in no forward motion whatsoever. Instead I found myself sinking… panicking… DROWNING! In most cases, multitasking only resulted in an OMG kinda day. I would be frazzled, stressed, and just plain grouchy. Even worst, my productivity decreased. DECREASED! Can you believe that? I mean, was I doing it wrong? Was I a multitasking failure? Did I need professional help? And if so, is there a support group for that?

What I soon came to realize is this: what we call multitasking is actually switching. I was never really doing two things at once. I was actually switching from one thing to the other. Multitasking then became a serious of constant interruptions. It was the intentional and willful act of allowing myself to become distracted and in many cases it was… dare I say it… a form of PROCRASTINATION! It resulted in doing a little bit of everything while getting nothing completely done.

My writer’s brain is constantly coming up with characters, stories, scenes, phrases, verses, etc. (it’s never a dull moment in there). In fact, here is a common scenario. I become excited about a particular storyline. Tell my friends all about it until they’re excited too. I start working on it. I pour myself into it buuuuuut…. that darn writer’s brain has already come up with two other ideas that are just as fabulous. Two months later my friends see me typing away and say, “how’s project A coming along?” I say, “Project A? Oh, no. I worked on that a little this morning but right now I’m adding a few things to project D. I have some great ideas for project B and F, oh, and project C needs to be tweaked a little today as well.” Six months later… well… let’s just say we have the exact same conversation with pretty much the same results. NOTHING completed.shutterstock_242289655

So, what do I so instead?

Well, first of all I don’t multitask. Not if I can help it anyway. Instead, I focus. I give my writer’s brain the chance to work exclusively on the complex task of getting one story out, finished, completed before I switch to another. I avoid other complex tasks and only pair my writing with activities that my brain can autopilot (listening to music or white noise works for me). I try to stay distraction free and when that little brain of mine comes up with something else fabulous I just jot it down to be pulled out LATER.

The result?

Well… my first completed novel, When The Bough Breaks, will be coming out in November 2015! I must say, I’m pretty darn happy about that!

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