Over on Writer Unboxed, Kristan Hoffman blogged a couple of weeks ago about the challenges writers face in juggling not only the many elements of a novel, but in balancing personal responsibilities and their writing careers. Here is Kristan’s post. It was a thoughtful post and it resonated with me.
As I chugged toward the finish of my first draft of my work-in-progress, entitled, Life of the Party–A Tale of Politics, Rap Music and Social Media, I got an email this week from my graphic designer. The cover art for my first novel, Small Change, was ready. There was nothing stopping me from uploading the manuscript through the Kindle Direct Publishing program. I would soon be a published novelist. Not so fast. After seven rounds of line edits, there were still nagging doubts. I didn’t see any major problems, but there were scenes that weren’t as strong as they could be and characters that needed some polishing. I decided to do some “tweaks.” I’m still at it with no end in sight.
Writers can identify with the desire to make their work perfect. A novel is never really “done.” The writer simply reaches a point where he has to let go. So there I was. Kristan used the image of juggling scarfs in her Writer Unboxed post. What comes to mind for me is the Radiohead song, Like Spinning Plates, from the band’s 2001 CD, Amnesiac.
Anybody old enough to remember The Ed Sullivan Show will recall the spinning plates act (where did Ed find these acts?). This guy would line up a series of poles secured to a table and then spin plates positioned on top of the poles. The idea was to get the plates spinning fast. The trouble was, the plates would slow down. To keep them from falling, the guy would run back and spin them again. I feel like that guy right now. I’m itching to get back to my WIP, but I have to focus on my novel, and my marketing plan, and my launch. And, then there’s my family and my job. Spinning plates? Sometimes it feels like I’m spinning my wheels.
Kristan said it well in her post. She urged writers to start slow with the juggling act. Don’t add too many things at once, focus on what’s important to you, and accept the fact that at some point you will drop something. Even if it’s a plate, those can be replaced. Too many tasks result in spinning one’s wheels or crashing plates if you prefer.
Right now my sole focus is on my novel. Oh yes, and the need to maintain my blog, and follow other blogs, and read the latest novel. As Thom Yorke would say, “And this just feels like spinning plates.”
Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the number of tasks and priorities associated with your writing career? How do you manage these multiple priorities?