Focus On One Writing Project Until You’re Done

By Jennifer Blanchard

Yesterday on Zen Habits, Leo Babauta wrote a post called, How Simplicity Can Help Creativity, Briefly. In this post, he listed 11 ways simplicity can solve the problems you have with creating.

Number five is a-typical advice, but dead-on. Especially for beginning writers or writers who really struggle to finish their writing. Babauta advised:

“Focus on one project till you’re done,” he says. “This goes against how most people work, and in fact I have a hard time doing it sometimes, as I get excited about several projects at once. But it’s how I’ve been working recently and I can tell you, there’s no better way to create. Clear everything else off your schedule, at least for the moment, and focus on one project. Keep the focus small, so the project doesn’t take more than a week (if it does, break it into more than one project). Then just focus on that one project, until you’re done. It feels great. Now move on to the next.”

In previous posts, I’ve advised writers to change their projects up to avoid boredom. I still fully support this idea as a way to keep things fresh.

But I also believe that it’s important for you to do what works for you.

So I think you should give focusing on one writing project at a time a chance. Here are the benefits of doing so:

  • You’ll feel less overwhelmed–Sometimes writers–and especially beginning writers–take on more than they can really handle at one time. And being overwhelmed often leads to procrastination.
  • You’ll feel like you accomplished something–Oftentimes, when you take on too many projects at once, it feels like you’re never really getting anything done. When you focus on one project, you see results quicker.
  • You’ll learn to find inspiration in other places–Focusing on several projects at one time can lead to new ideas. But there are other ways to get inspiration besides starting another project. Take a walk. Paint a picture. Listen to some rock music. Anything can spark creativity.
  • You’ll be a stronger writer–Keeping your focus on one project for an extended period of time can be hell, I’ll give you that. But it can also teach you many valuable lessons, including how to stick with a project until the very end. And that lesson is priceless. Especially if you plan to make a career of writing.

Do you focus on one project at a time? Why or why not?

About the Author: Jennifer Blanchard is founder of Procrastinating Writers. Be sure to follow her on Twitter.

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