Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Multitasking; or Can Writer Head and Edit Head Ever Work Together?

It's summer, and I've agreed to take part in a summer writing challenge.

The problem is, my brain got stuck in Edit Head.

You see, at the same time, I was also trying to wrap up a second draft of "The Daughters of August Winterbourne." I thought to myself, "Well, I'll write every day until I meet my word count quota, and then I'll spend a little time editing. No problem."

Yeah. It sounds easy enough. But in practice...

In practice, my Edit Head took over and was trying to edit every new sentence to death as I wrote it, bringing progress on my new writing to a grinding halt. In the meantime, it was also getting distracted by the new story, and losing focus on the editing tasks at hand. Which meant that neither project was getting very far very fast.

In fact, for a couple of days, I opened up both documents, stared at them a bit, and then went off to play backgammon with my computer instead. So, yeah, not very productive. (Well, I did hone my backgammon skills a bit. But it was a loss from a writing standpoint.)

I finally gave up and focused on the editing task first. As a result, the second draft is all but finished (I'm debating whether to add my chapter breaks back in yet, or whether I should wait until I've finished the next round of edits; I'm currently leaning toward the latter).

And, not surprisingly, once I'd finished that, the next section of the new story fell out of my head and into my keyboard, with only a minimum of fuss from the Edit Head.

Which makes me wonder: Are the two modes, writing and editing, truly incompatible? Or is it simply that I haven't practiced switching back and forth between the two very much? Would more practice improve this ability? Or would it just make me want to tear my hair out?

Obviously, there aren't any easy answers to these questions. But it is something that I will continue to ponder.

Has anyone else had a similar experience? How did you resolve the issue?