Why you need a “Focus” Project

Got multiple WIPs on the go? Struggling to get anywhere with any one project? Here’s my top three reasons why you need to pick a “focus” project – a WIP that you work on exclusively until you hit your next writing goal.

Not a completer-Finisher? Fake it until you make it

I am very much not the type of person who starts one project, finishes it, and then moves to the next project. I’m the kind of person who will start at least five different projects, get about half way through with three, and maybe (with much effort) finish one.

Now, there is nothing bad in this approach, but I found myself frustrated at lack of progress on all five. Plus, the one I did finish felt like such a slog the project lost its charm by the time I was inching my way to the finish line.

The problem? For me, five projects at once was simply too much.

So I made a decision that I was going to have one focus project for one month (that being my Novel for Nanowrimo 2018). Lo and behold I won Nanowrimo that year, and had enough energy to just…keep going!

My novel is still very much a WIP, but I’ve now managed to complete two complete re-writes and now slogging my way through what I hope is the final structural edit. Instead of just diving into multiple WIPs, I’ve found myself coming back to this story to figure out the problem points instead of ignoring them.

Time (and energy) is of the essence

I’ve spoken before about how to write when you’re busy, and how it’s okay to pace yourself with your writing. It’s such an important topic for me because it is the main constraint on my writing ability – time and energy.

However, even when I have lots of free time, I’ve noticed my writing output doesn’t magically increase. My energy levels need for writing (and the impact writing has on my energy levels) stays mostly the same.

Choosing one project to focus on has meant I’ve used the most of my time and energy. This doesn’t mean I’ve completely stopped doing other projects, but it’s given me the ability to prioritise my time and energy. After all, it’s a focus project, not a one project at the cost of all else project.

Sometimes the only way to the finish line is through the problems

When you’re on a second or third edit of the same story, it can become a slog. There are times when it would be easier to write another project, maybe even create a new one which is shiny and fresh, that has less problem plot-holes than your current one.

It’s easy to procrastinate on Project One when shiny, alluring Project Two is sitting there in the wings. However, if you’ve chosen Project One to focus on, you might find yourself more willing to sit down with Project One and worth through the problems, rather than take the procrastination route of creating something with Project Two.

(Now, there is something about knowing when to give up a Project, but that will have to be the subject of another blog).

Sometimes the only way to the finish line is by sitting down and forcing your way through the problems that lie in your WIP. And those problems can only be solved if you’re willing to focus your time and energy solving them.

What do you do?

Do you have one WIP or multiple WIPs on the go? Do you think picking a focus project could help your writing?

Alex.J.Cobalt is a fantasy writer from the UK. When she’s not working away at her fantasy novel series, she posts free flash fictions on her website, along with regular blogs about writing.

Photo Credit: Yannick Pulver on Unsplash

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