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The Writer’s Kitchen: Mastering the Art of Juggling Projects
From:
Anne Janzer -- Membership Expert Anne Janzer -- Membership Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: San Luis Obispo, CA
Tuesday, October 17, 2023

 
Chef cooking two pans of veggies on a stovetop

We’ve all said it: “One day, I’ll have dedicated time to write that book (those essays, my poetry…) When I do, watch out, literary world!”

You’ll hear many reasons not to wait for that special, golden future time. Here’s one to consider:

What if you write better when juggling multiple projects?

Debunking the myth of the isolated writer

Forget working on a single project in total isolation. (See Stephen King’s The Shining to know how that turns out.)

Life is rarely that simple. Most successful writers and authors manage several writing projects at once.

People author books while also writing reports, emails, and meeting notes at their paid jobs. Full-time authors spend time on blog posts, newsletters, emails, and more.

How many types of writing do you manage at the same time?

Wise writers learn to appreciate the variety of projects, and even find strength and inspiration in them.

According to a profile in the New York Times, the award-winning novelist Lauren Groff often has several novels going at once. Why does she do that? It certainly doesn’t hurt her craft. It probably improves it.

The benefits of wide-ranging work

Working on multiple projects delivers many cognitive benefits.

Productivity for fluctuating mindsets. With multiple projects, you can align your work with your mindset. If you lack focus one day, shift from drafting to research or brainstorming.

Interleaving. Switching between subjects as you study (also called interleaving) boosts learning. Since writing is a deeper form of learning, alternating subjects may enhance the work.

Incubation. When you work on something and then put it aside, your brain often dedicates background cycles to the project. When you’re ready to work, you’ll make faster progress.

Lateral thinking and cross-pollination. When I worked as a marketing consultant for multiple clients, images or metaphors from one domain informed work in another. We invite creativity by working across domains and topics.

The busy writing kitchen

Instead of a solitary writer in the attic, picture the writer as a chef cooking an elaborate meal, tracking several dishes from prepping ingredients to final plating.

Your writing develops from research and outlining through drafting and polishing. Each piece, like each dish, has its own recipe. Some are quick, others simmer for hours before coming together.

You might have many dishes in progress, while actively focusing on one at a time, rotating as needed.

What does your writing kitchen look like? How many things do you have going, and how do you manage the load?

Rules for a successful writing kitchen

happy chef in kitchen

Don’t come to me for cooking advice. The other day, I burned a pot of carrots when distracted cooking the fish. ??

However, I have mastered my writing kitchen over the years by observing a few simple rules:

Research isn’t writing. Just as you can buy ingredients and never cook, you can get stuck researching and journaling. Eventually, you’ve got to write. Writing often leads to fresh ideas for research.

Start the simmer early. Do enough work on each project to start incubation, even if you feel busy. Then you can put off the writing and still make progress. Without that early effort, you’re simply procrastinating.

Stagger deadlines. Try to maintain projects in different stages (research, incubation, drafting, polishing). This helps you balance your workflow and productivity without being overwhelmed by deadlines.

Stir the pot on longer projects. To get the most from incubation, revisit the longer-term, simmering projects. Pick one and think about it on a walk or in the shower. Keep the flame active under the project so you’re ready to pick it up and get cooking.

Know your capacity. Every writer-chef has their own limit of how much they can do at once. You’ll get a feel for your capacity and capabilities. Manage your workflow to find the balance that works best for you and avoid burnout.

Remember, writing is as much about managing your cognitive processes as arranging the words. By understanding your own “writing kitchen,” you can learn to manage multiple projects with ease and joy.

Want to dig into more like this?

The Workplace Writers Process includes advice for managing multiple projects in the workplace.

Read Patrick Barry’s insights on interleaving in writing and editing.

Cuesta Park Consulting & Publishing publishes books and online courses for writers and marketing professionals. Books are available in print, ebook, and audiobook formats from a wide range of retailers. For more information, visit AnneJanzer.com.

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Anne Janzer
Group: Cuesta Park Consulting
Dateline: San Luis Obispo, CA United States
Direct Phone: 4155176592
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