I’ve talked a lot on Instagram about how I often have two writing projects going at the same time. I’ve found this to be an incredibly helpful way to keep my creativity fresh. And while this approach is definitely not for everyone, it’s become an essential part of my writing process.
If you’ve never tried to tackle multiple projects a try before, you might want to think about giving it a shot. However, if balancing two writing projects sounds like too much (or is too much), you might want to consider looking into another form of creativity to try; something you can use to shift your way of thinking while you work on your writing project. This could be painting, photography, design, or even something crafty. It’s easy to get caught up in your story. A creative shift can help refresh and reset your creative mind, which helps to make you the best writer you can be.
With that in mind, here are my top five benefits of a creative shift:
1) It gives your brain a break (especially if you’re story is being difficult)
It goes without saying that writing a book comes with a handful of problems. Plot and character issues can pop at any moment and they’re not always easy to solve. At times, the more you think about the problem, the harder it becomes to develop a solution. Sometimes the best thing you can do for your story is to take a break to get some perspective. However, stepping away from the problem isn’t always easy. I can’t tell you how many times I tried to take a break and found I couldn’t stop thinking about the issue! Having another project to put all my brain power on forces my mind to focus on something else completely. It gives me some space from my problematic project, and often when I go back to work I find that the problem is much easier to solve.
2) It helps your brain work differently
If your creative shift involves something other than writing, that means you’re tapping into a different part of your creative brain, which I’ve found can help refresh you. If your project does involve writing, I’ve found that I can get the same effect by ensuring my projects aren’t at the same stages. So I make it a point not to be brainstorming both stories or drafting both stories at the same time. I think when we force our brains to tap into the same type of creativity for an extended period of time, it’s easier to get mentally exhausted. However, when we give our brains a different creative task, it gives the overworked part of the brain a chance to recuperate. (This is not at all scientific. It’s just an observation I’ve had based on my own experience.)
3) It keeps you consistently productive
If writer’s block rears its ugly head, or you find that your story is getting intimidating, overwhelming, or out of control, it can be all too tempting to give up on it. But if you have a second project you can shift to, you have the opportunity to take a step back without throwing in the towel. A creative shift may be a key component that keeps you from becoming a quitter. It will allow you to write (or create) every day and stay consistently productive even when your main project is getting the best of you. And like the first point, often when you return from your break, the problems that were holding you back on your original project will seem a lot more manageable.
4) It lets you take a timeout on a project without slacking off
Sometimes, our stories may be in places that are less than ideal. Either we’re stuck on a particular plot point, or maybe we just don’t have “it” that day. Unscheduled days off can be beneficial, but it can be hard to take them without feeling like we should be working. The makes it hard to enjoy the day off, which can, in turn, make it hard to rest our minds the way we need to. Working on a second project can help with this. It allows you to take a break when you’re just not feeling your project without completely slacking off. You’ll still be working and creating–even if it’s not as you planned to be.
5) Take on as many different projects as you want–but don’t overdo it
Okay, this is more a tip than a benefit. While there is no limit to the number of projects you can shift between, I would suggest starting with two and trying not to go above three. Creative shifts can be helpful, but too many could turn you into someone who starts projects but never finishes them. You also run the risk of spreading yourself too thin. As much as a creative shift can be rejuvenating, an overworked brain will burn out. Take on however many projects you need to help your creative process, but be careful not to hurt yourself while you do.
As always, I hope this helps!
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Now it’s your turn: Have you tried a creative shift before? If you have, how has it helped? What other techniques help you stay fresh creatively? Tell me about it in the comments!