One of the things I’ve always loved about writing is the way it sweeps you off your feet and allows you to get lost in your own imagination. Having the ability to harness all your energy and focus it deeply on a singular task is a prerequisite for this kind of work, and for those of us who manipulate words on a daily basis, it’s the writer gene that unlocks this ability. How else could we possibly spend all those hours alone in a room?
When I first started writing I would literally spend weeks at a time completely immersed in a single script and absolutely nothing else. I could barely write a birthday card during these cerebral odysseys, let alone another script or treatment or outline. Sure it was a bit tedious at times, but for the most part, it was bliss. I think this is the writer’s natural state—total immersion in a universe of his or her own creation with absolutely no distractions.
The fact is though, we live in a world where competition for people’s attention is so fierce, and information is delivered and consumed so quickly, that singular focus, while great for writing, is not very functional in the broader sense. In other words, as writers, our natural state is in direct conflict with the state of the rapidly evolving world around us.
There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t fantasize about having some magic bullet that would somehow change this sobering fact for all of us. Sadly, there is none. In order to survive as a writer today you simply have to be able to divide your focus among multiple projects at various stages of development simultaneously.
So don’t be a one trick pony while the rest of the world multi-tasks and runs circles around you. Learn to juggle and keep as many balls in the air as you possibly can. Then get back to work. Sooner or later one of those projects is bound to come down to earth.