The Importance of Changing Tracks

What I learned this week about myself is that I can’t stick to one project indefinitely. Instead, I need to spread my mind around a bit.

After settling back into the work routine last week, I spent the majority of my writing time starting the editing process on my novel. That in itself was a change of track since the first draft of my novel isn’t finished yet – I’m only on Chapter 19 – but I realized that the list of things I wanted to change about my plot and my world had become so long that it made more sense to go back than continue forward. After spending a week of successful editing, though, I decided that I needed to change tracks again, and so I moved on to a short story I was planning on writing back in December but never got to.

Many writers would likely scold me for this, saying that I’ve abandoned my novel and that I’ll never go back to it. To them, in all their wisdom, I politely disagree. I haven’t abandoned my novel – in fact, I think about it every day, and keep jotting down notes. But I find those ideas come to me less after weeks of focusing on the same project. I figure my brain needs to pause and let what I’ve already done with my novel ferment, and the best way to do that while still exercising my creative self is to temporarily move on to a shorter project. On top of that, I think it’s important to focus on what your heart is into, and I could feel this story pulling at me, almost begging me to be written. And the fact that I practically finished the first draft in just two afternoon sessions at my computer tells me that focusing on this story was a good idea.

Once this story is done, I’ll go back to my novel and get some more editing done – by force, if necessary, since I know it needs to happen. But then I’ll take a breather to work on another story, and continue what I now understand to be the writing process that works for me.

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