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Writer’s Should Work on More Than One Project at a Time

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Last Updated on August 23, 2022 by Ben Oakley

Writing is taxing on the mind – and body – but you could achieve your writing dreams by tackling multiple projects at the same time. Here’s why you should, and more importantly, how to overcome the myth that is ‘writer’s block’.

The great myth of writing

There is a myth that stops many writers from achieving their goals, it goes under the great mysterious moniker of ‘Writer’s Block’. Many believe that to suffer from such an ailment means to stop creatively producing – and writing.

The questions regarding writer’s block usually go like this:

  • “How do I overcome writer’s block?”
  • “What to do when writer’s block hits?”
  • “Should I step away from the screen when I’ve got writer’s block?”
  • “I’ve got writer’s block – help!”

There are few answers given beyond the usual chatter of ‘step away’ and ‘come back refreshed’. Rarely do you hear about authors moving onto another writing project – which is absolutely the right thing to do.

It’s ultra-rare for an author to believe writer’s block doesn’t exist.

Yet, in my experience, the so-called writer’s block is merely an inhibitor to creativity and productivity, something that can be mentally overcome.

The get-out clause of writing

To claim writer’s block is tantamount to a get-out clause, used only when writers don’t understand the cause of it.

Writer’s block is not real. It’s a catchy phrase thrown around all too simply for when fingers can no longer tap, and minds cannot further imagine.

Writing is different from any other creative art form, in that every line of a writer’s work is reviewed, torn apart, and inspected. One word with incorrect grammar out of an 80,000-word book – could result in a writer being dragged along behind the truck of bad reviews.

Painting, music, dance, and any other creative form are considered by the audience or viewer as a whole piece rather than being picked apart. Unless a jobsworth critic decides to spend days ripping apart the creativity of others – for their own benefit.

Here’s what’s really happening, and once you know about it then it’s easy to overcome – with practice.

Reasons for writer’s block:

  • Pressure
  • Distraction
  • Lack of concentration
  • Tiredness
  • Stress

All of which are warning signs of poor mental health.

It’s not to say that they cause poor mental health in writers but that they are contributing factors in the deterioration of mental health.

The mental drain of writing

Writing requires a huge amount of mental strength, so it’s common for writers to feel tired and stressed and suffer a lack of concentration. The trick is how to overcome it.

The worst thing a writer can suffer from is negative pressure, which is to say the pressure placed on the writer by another individual or company to get things done in too quick of a time.

Writing under negative pressure sees work suffer immeasurably – along with mental health. Writers should learn to endure a little bit of pressure but too much is dangerous.

There have been authors who have written one book in a series and suddenly feel pressured to write another. Or they’ve set themselves a deadline they are struggling to reach. Perhaps looking at more successful authors becomes detrimental to their own creativity.

That pressure, or pressure from those in similar scenarios, then results in distraction. This is what distraction looks like:

  • Will my book be good enough?
  • Will it end my career?
  • What are other authors doing?
  • What’s happening on social media?
  • Why are they selling more than me?
  • Why has no-one read my first book?
  • What am I doing?
  • What’s the point in all this?

And that’s when the veil of the writer’s block drops over an author like a fresh waterfall off the side of a cliff. Not caused by lack of ideas – but by pressure and distraction.

Overcome distraction with multiple projects

Writers are often told to focus on one project at a time and shove any additional ideas they have onto the side-lines until ready. But when will it ever be ready if it’s merely a few words shimmied away on a notebook?

I work on three-four books at any one time, not by circumstance, but because I plan it that way. What this does is allow me to jump straight into another project if I’m having an off day on one of them.

Some days, for whatever reason, either mental or physical, there might not be a desire to write, and that’s okay. The plan would then be to turn the off day into a day of rest, an allowable day to relax and recover from work.

As a full-time writer, it’s detrimental to everyone involved to have an off day.

In the morning I might be working on a story, and halfway through the ‘shift’, for whatever reason, I might not have the desire to write anything else on that piece.

Instead of succumbing to the myth of the writer’s block, I move to one of my other projects.

Multiple projects can help overcome pressure and distraction

Here’s why writers should work on more than one project at a time:

  • Overcomes distraction
  • Helps keep the mind working
  • Utilises skills more efficiently
  • Higher productivity
  • Reduces stress
  • Improved creativity
  • Improves writing
  • Develops writing skills
  • More books!

The causes of burnout are the same as that of the mysterious writer’s block. Once a writer is aware that both are caused by stress, pressure, or distraction, then plans can be made to overcome them.

Writers should work on more than one project at a time, for their own benefit, and not the benefit of others.

True art is not created inside a veil of negative pressure and distraction, but in those little moments of literary freedom – where the words flow spontaneously.

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Ben Oakley is a bestselling author, researcher, publisher, blogger, and mental health advocate from Camden, England. Usually found on Twitter or in the bars and parks of Camden. Agathokakological is his favourite word!