Thursday, January 05, 2017

On Doing Two (or more) Things at Once

I'm sure there is some science somewhere that explains how different parts of your brain can work on two different problems at the same time, and, in fact, how you can be better at solving two problems because one part of your brain is distracted by one problem and so the rest of your brain can sub-consciously work on that second problem.
This is my philosophy anyway, and explains why, in addition to trying to write this amorphous memoir-crime-history book I am also trying to put together a collection of poems. Also, today I started working (again) on a crime story I started. When I was looking for the notes I had made for this crime story (still lost!), I saw the manuscript of the mystery I wrote, oh, a few years back that I sort of promised myself I was going to finish and then try to find an agent for. Maybe?
Well, my point is, and I tell students this often, that when you have ONE BIG thing to do, it sometimes helps to do something else. Usually I recommend walking or working out or writing something that you tell your brain you don't care about (a blog post?). It's just fun! Just write it! It doesn't matter!
So, because of that, I easily tacked 1,000 words onto this crime story that I have NO IDEA where it is going....and that's okay, because it's just an exercise while I work on this very serious, totally important book project. Which is probably why that seems to be going nowhere, because it is so serious and important. Actually, I've written a few things for it, and I sort of like them.
The problem, speaking of amorphous, is that I've read a few things lately that have this sort of formal aspect to them, which, in theory, I like. In the two instances I can think of, however, the form sort of interfered with what, for all other purposes, might have been good novels.
This discovery has made me paranoid about the form of my amorphous project. Am I thinking too much about form? Maybe. However, when I try to write a straight narrative I realize that my life is actually pretty boring and no one would want to read about it that way. (trust me, it's true)
This leads to some long stretches of self-reflection that don't result in my "producing one thing." Though today I can at least say that I produced some words and that, by the end of next week perhaps?, I should have a draft of the story.
And with that, I'm going for a walk. (I hope I don't freeze out there!)

1 comment:

Lisa B. said...

Don't freeze out there! Reading this post made me feel tired, because I'm (a) sick and (2) therefore not in the mood to do ONE thing, let alone two or more at a time and (D) ugh, sick. Also, I'm glad I write poetry because managing the formal questions around a big prose project sounds terrifying and exhausting. Good luck! Also, I love that you're excavating stuff you've written in the past like, oh hey, mystery, how are you? let's see what we have here!