When my whole life has revolved around one, one project for more than a month or two, I go into a type of cruise control. I zone out and just go through the same motions every day. I would absolutely kill to write something else, but as a writer I have always heard that if you stop at any point during a large project, you can hang up finishing it. Chances are you’ll never get back to working on your project because you’ll be too busy working on something else, losing all discipline.
Well, my question is: At what point does this type of discipline become unhealthy for the project and for you?
Discipline is important, of course. Every day there should be a time where you dedicate every second to writing or editing, whether it is the entire day or 15 minutes. Your writing will get better and you’ll get closer and closer to finishing those large projects. However, having one project that you are constantly returning to can cause burnout.
I have found that having a minor project alongside a large one is beneficial for your brain. To clarify, I feel that it helps keep your brain moving and able to handle the monotony of the large project without going into autopilot. Every day, I write at least 1/3 of a short story after writing 1/3 of my large project. I find the work-reward system works very well with my work ethic. I get to relax and still be productive which helps me to prepare for the next round of writing.
You don’t have to stay completely married to one project. Unlike what most people believe, the relationship between an author and their work is not a marriage. It’s a parent and a child. You will always be dedicated to your first child, even if you have another. It doesn’t mean you love it less, and you’re not “cheating” like you would if it were your spouse. At the same time, just because something is new doesn’t mean you should just abandon your first. The oldest one needs just as much attention as the newest creation.
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