Monday, November 26, 2012

There Can Only Be One

I have this issue that I need to find a way to get past.  I tend to focus on one type of writing and leave the others on the shelf to get dusty.

I've always had this problem.  Well, since graduating school, anyway.  In my school years I had to write whatever I was assigned, and it was never a problem, which means it's just ridiculous that I have a problem now.

You see, I wasn't getting any fiction writing done when my son was itty bitty.  Instead, I was blogging for "pay" as a mom (my blog was Not a Test Tube Baby, which no longer exists) and writing non-fiction articles for Helium.  I made some money doing that, which was great.  Far easier than making money writing fiction, at least at this stage for me.  I was also taking college courses during this time, and writing papers for those.

Fast forward to when I went to my first conference and promptly threw myself into fiction writing, the kind I really enjoy.  I stopped writing the non-fiction (which also, currently, means I stopped getting paid for my writing).

I didn't realize I'd stopped it until I was blog hopping the other day and came across a post where the blogger said they were stuck writing poetry right now, because they could only focus on one kind of writing at a time.  Zoinks!  That's what I've been doing!

Not only that, but I tend to either be writing on short fiction or novels.  I have a hard time juggling when to write what.  Should I sit down and write an article so I can get paid?  Should I work on a short story and submit that sucker so I can get my name out there?  Or should I continue working on my novel?  What about editing?  No, I'll do this.  No, this.  This.  Argh!

So how does one juggle when to write what?  How do you split your time between short fiction, novel and non-fiction?  I like to write it all, but I just can't find the time or a way to split up what little time I do find.

I will say that I've reached a semi-happy medium between short fiction and my novels.  On Tuesdays I host a write-in at Pikes Perk, a coffee house in town (all are welcome, so if you live around here and want to go, let me know!)  I'm there for a little less than two hours, and I spend that time working solely on short stories.  I'm not allowed to work on my novels or editing, because I said so.

Later that day, I take my daughter to gymnastics.  This involves sitting in a waiting room with a bunch of other parents, several of them quite obnoxious, so my son and I put ear buds in and listen to music, him while doing homework and me while writing.  Again, I limit myself to writing short fiction only at this venue.

I like to work on my novels on one specific computer.  I don't like to do bits and parts elsewhere, though I did do a little snippet from my current WIP at an improv writing I attended, and the Earth did not open up and swallow me.  Nor did buildings collapse around me.  Funny.

So, tell me, do you have the juggling act down?  How do you decide what to write and when?  Do you write what comes to mind at any given time, or do you schedule in writing time for the different arenas?  

May you find your Muse.

Both images courtesy of OCAL at


  1. Outside of blog posts and guest posts, all of my writing is fiction, so not much juggling.

  2. "Do you write what comes to mind at any given time...?"

    That's pretty much how I handle it. If a post/nonfiction piece comes to mind, I'll go ahead and write it while I'm thinking about it. If a fiction scene starts playing in my mind, I'll go ahead and write that. Good post. :)

  3. You have been a writer for a long time; if you can do everything, then go for it, especially if you can make a living at it, and you enjoy it.

    For most of us, though, with little time, few skills, or little incentive, writing is done when no other activity fulfills our needs.

  4. I'd like to think I've got the juggling act down. I have to allocate my time in a written-out schedule. Work on fiction for 1 hour. Edit for 30 minutes. Then blog for 2 hours. Otherwise I'll just work on 1 thing for hours.

    Also, getting paid to blog... what is this black magic you speak of? I've been promised sweet Internet gold for years.

  5. This is a really timely post because I'm doing lots of juggling at the moment.

    I do my best writing when I don't feel like there's any pressure to get one project done and then move onto the next. I juggle, usually, two projects back and forth, and most of the time, I open both documents on my laptop and go between. When I lose steam with one, I hop to the other, and then go back. I'm doing that now with my novel and a short story I'm blogging, and for whatever reason, this keeps me saner than concentrating on only one at a time. I haven't bounced between fiction and non-fiction since I was in school, though. Finding something to blog about in the midst of my fiction starts to feel impossible. Frustrating! But I don't think there's a science to it. When I start to pin myself down, it starts to feel like a school assignment, and that saps the creativity right out of it.

  6. I write fiction, short stories, and research my blogposts (similar to non-fiction). I just write what is most urgent. Right now, that's a new mystery novel. (I also write in two genres - scifi and mystery).

    What do I enjoy most? fiction writing. So, that's where I concentrate my efforts. If you have to schedule, then make your writing time when you are most productive. For me that's earlier in the day. Good luck!

  7. I'm a single focus person. My mind doesn't juggle the way it did in the past.

    "There can only be one"--I thought you were heading into The Highlander movie.

  8. It actually sounds like you do quite a bit of different types of writing. And blog posts would count as non-fiction, especially when you tend toward historical posts and such. It sounds like you already have it worked out pretty well.

  9. I have this problem in a different capacity, which I've blogged about in the past. I write only fiction, but I have a hard time focusing on one particular WIP at a time. Stories are constantly occurring to me (I know, SUCH a pain), and I'm never quite sure which ones to focus on. Some of them are for my own amusement, some of them feel like they have better commercial viability. Usually once I get into the swing of a manuscript I can focus, but getting past the first 10K-20K words is difficult for me, every time.

  10. I love your idea of working on specific things in specific place. I think I'll give it a try!


  11. I plan what I'm going to do on a month to month basis with plenty of wiggle room in case I change my mind. I don't know why, but I like writing short stories on Sundays - and not in my house.

  12. I've found that my muse abandons me if I force too much rigidity upon her. I do try to set aside my "creative" time. That can include writing, plotting, brainstorming, revising, even blogging. Seems to work well for me. But then, we're all unique individuals.

  13. Alex, but you get tons done and visit everyone, so I figure you're doing your own kind of juggling.

    Linda, I've been trying to get better about writing when something pops into my mind, or else I may not come back to it.

    Rosaria, thank you. I do have limited time, which is an issue, but I figure everyone has that limit.

    ABFtS, Haha, yeah, unfortunately, that was a short-term thing about 7 years ago. I happened across people looking for moms who wanted to get paid to blog. I believe it was Google Ad Sense we used, and I know your experience with them. All the revenues went to the main hub, who would then send us a hit report and, ultimately, our check. They ended up taking all the blogs down and telling us we could all post on the same blog, which I had no interest in. No idea what the main hub ended up being called or if it is still going.

    Lauren, I could see how it would feel like a school assignment at that point. Luckily, I don't tend to have too much trouble with the blogging, but a researched article is harder to buckle down to.

    D.G., great advice, thanks!

    Susan, haha, that was the inspiration for the title. I haven't watched that in forever.

    Andrew, why, thank you for the support. You're right, blog posts are non-fiction. I guess I don't feel the same sort of pressure when I'm writing a blog post versus writing for publication.

    JEM, interesting. I am constantly getting ideas and wanting to move to the bigger and better idea, but so far I've been alright at keeping myself on one WIP at a time. I have to be able to write notes for all the other stories as they come, though, which is why I keep multiple notebooks.

    Debbie, that is one thing that works for me! I think it just cuts down on the decision making process, which is where I have the issue (ADHD).

    Tonja, isn't it funny the weird little things that get us going? Like my being able to write short fiction on Tuesdays, and not at my house.

    Jeff, interesting. Yeah, the more I try to organize the creative time, the harder it can get.

  14. Nope, I can't juggle at all. I write articles in my day job, which means I'm all writered out when I get home and can't really focus on any other kind of writing (other than blogging).


  15. best advice I was given was..... make a timetable.....I work freelance and sometimes it's writing related and sometimes not and I noticed when I have alot of work on I'm more focused on my creative writing but when I'm gainfully unemployed and have all the time in the world I fritter it away a timetable means I know even if the muse is on holiday I have to sit down and hammer out something for 2 hours and then I am allowed to stop....and go read blogs could have creative one day work related another?? good luck....!!

  16. You must be really accomplished to manage more projects at the same time. I had almost given up on my first novel when I received an email from an editor who had read my short story and said they;d be interested in an extended project...So here I am again :). I also wanted to thank you for encouraging me.

  17. Hi, Shannon, I just saw your comment on my post about Galicia. Sorry to be so late in responding.

    I wrestle with the "juggling" problem. I actually do like to write more than one genre: short stories for adults, novels for middle grade readers, poetry for both children and adults. Lately, I'm getting into article writing. I have an agent for my children's mystery, and she's nudging me to do travel articles and Book Two, so the short stories are on the back burner. For some odd reason, the articles have made me turn to poetry. Go figure.
    The upside of that, though, is that you always have something to work on. :-)

  18. Jamie, we had someone address that at a writer's night I go to once per month. He said he wrote all day then got home and had no desire to write. One person's advice was that they should be writing something they found fun when they were at home. Otherwise, it would always be like work.

    Young at Heart, thanks for the advice! I'm thinking I'm going to have to make myself some sort of schedule.

    Petronela, yay, that's great! Good luck with that project.

    Elizabeth, exciting about your projects! You're right, there is always something to do!