Whenever I run into problems during a scene or chapter, I have an unfortunate tendency to stubbornly slog away at the offending words, often for weeks at a time, until I grow so sick of staring at the pages I force myself to move on to another part of the manuscript, if only to maintain my sanity. Hardly what one might consider an efficient use of time. A month or two ago, I resolved that I would no longer go this route, promising myself I would only work on a scene or chapter up until the point where my muse became antsy or bored and then move on to something else. And so far, the results have been encouraging.
My productivity has increased, and I’m a much happier camper these days. Yesterday, for example, after pounding away on a first draft of a chapter for a couple of hours, (first drafts are like wading through molasses for me), I rewarded myself by putting that chapter aside, jumping to an earlier, more polished chapter, and doing a light edit. Quite refreshing. Of course I do have to be careful. There’s always the danger I’ll misuse this technique to avoid working on challenging chapters, but I'm optimistic this won’t happen.
Some of you may be uncomfortable with the idea of jumping around so much, but this technique seems to fit my style perfectly. I’ve always been a multitasker, never happy to work on only one project at a time. I typically read six to ten books simultaneously, choosing to read whichever suits me at the moment. (I will admit this can be a real problem when trying to review books in a timely manner.) This multitasking behavior even influences my writing style. My best scenes come when I have multiple threads occurring at once. Some writers can write an entire chapter around one event. Not me. If I don’t have several subplots in a scene, the words just don’t seem to want to come.
So for now, I’m going to stick with method. By the end of the year I should know whether or not it’s a keeper.