Paula only works on one story at a time.
Henry Miller’s first commandment is:
Work on one thing at a time until finished. His tenth is: Forget
the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing. The
rest of his self-imposed schedule for 1932-33 is also worth reading: https://www.brainpickings.org/2012/02/22/henry-miller-on-writing/
Although I can multi-task on many
non-writing occasions, I can only think about one story at a time. That’s not to say I
don’t have ideas for other stories, and occasionally I may write an opening or
a scene for another story, but I’ll then put them to one side while I
concentrate on completing the ‘work in progress’.
I don’t recall any occasion when I
have worked on two different writing projects at the same time. The main reason
is that I become too involved with my characters and their story to direct my
thoughts to another story or another set of characters. If I abandoned them,
even temporarily, I would have difficulty in picking them up again and/or my
mind would keep switching back and forth, resulting in two (or more) disjointed
I know of writers who can work on
several things at once, and I do wonder how they can do it. Recently, I read an
article about a well-known American author who claims it took him nearly
fifteen years to write one of his novels but wrote short stories when he got
stuck on it. My immediate reaction was that he would have taken less time to
write that novel if he hadn’t diverted his mind to other stories! The same
author also admitted that he switches between novels when he gets bored – which
actually shocked me. If he gets bored with his own novels, there’s not much
hope for the reader, is there?
Am I alone in only working on one story
at a time? If you can work on several stories at the same time, I’d be
interested to know how you switch your mind from one to the other, and back again!