Wednesday Words: Choices, Multitasking, and Squeaky Wheel Characters

Lately something happened to me in my writing endeavor that I hadn’t experienced before: characters from completely different worlds started competing for my attention. Usually I get on a story track and away I go. Pieces of other stories might crop up here or there— enough to sketch a scene or make some notes, but one story remains front and center. Lately I’ve had three. So what to do?

Multitasking is not one of my favorite pastimes. Plenty of research has shown it doesn’t make anyone more productive and erodes work quality. That fact makes me nervous to undertake large works simultaneously. A few of my characters heartily—and loudly—disagree.

I’ve tried to force myself to focus on one story. I set up a rotating schedule. Others have listened to me whine and/or given me their opinions (and for that I am eternally grateful!). Lately I’ve just yelled “screw it” and told the characters to work it out among themselves and let me know what they come up with. In other words, whoever’s loudest in my head wins. Guess the old adage is true: the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

When you’ve got competing tasks asking for attention, how do you choose what comes first?