Do you have a hard time focusing on one project at a time?
I find this to be the case in both writing and my life. If you're an inventive spirit whose mind is swimming with ideas, this is a syndrome I affectionately refer to as Creative ADD. For years, I suffered at the hands of it. Starting a project only to have my concentration sucked away by a new, more exciting one, which resulted in more than a dozen unfinished screenplays.
I grew accustomed to not completing my projects, dragging my files with me everywhere I moved, up until last year. I began a project that would be my biggest undertaking as a writer, a novel. From the beginning, I worried that it would become yet another buried box at the back of my closet, but I forged ahead, writing 10-20 pages a day until three months had passed and I found myself looking down at a completed manuscript.
At first I considered it a miracle, but then I decided to evaluate my writing process and see if there was some magic formula, I could apply to the other scatterbrain areas of my life, and here’s what I found:
a. I created a mock cover for my book as a source of inspiration.
b. I also was sure to print out my daily pages. There’s nothing like holding your progress in your hand to propel you to do more.
c. I vowed to write every single day, good or bad, long or short, typed or hand written.
d. I didn’t set an impossible deadline for myself. I knew a Novel was a huge undertaking, and that it would undoubtedly take time and patience.
e. I also kept a calendar marking my progress.
a. I awarded myself with a new book every time I completed a couple of chapters.
I applied these methods to some of my unfinished projects and have found my creativity a great deal more manageable. Now when I get a new idea I take an hour or two out of my day to write a summary and add it to my list of projects in development. As a writer every project comes with a sense of urgency and my curiosity pulls at me to pursue it. I’ve found that writing a detailed summary helps alleviate some of the pressure in order to bring my focus back to my current project. And if the new idea is really eating away at me, I consider it motivation to finish sooner.
The result, two completed novels, three screenplays, and five new ideas, to add to my already massive portfolio. Every day I get a few steps closer to the end.