Solution to Writing Obstacle No. 25:

“I have to make progress on several writing projects at the same time, and I am in a panic.”

The writing research shows that those scholars with more than one writing project going at a time do better than those with only one (Boice 2000).

Perhaps this is because you can switch from one to the other when you get stuck. Whatever the reason, having more than one writing project is a plus, not a minus.

You have to prioritize one, but make a plan for working on more than one. For me, whatever is closest to publication takes precedence. If I’m working on a book, and an article comes back with light revisions recommended or with copyedits I need to review, I always set aside all other projects to push those through to publication.

One option is to write in the morning on one and in the afternoon on the other. I have not been successful at this, but you might be!

Set up scheduled dates with a friend at the library to work on the less important one, so that you keep it moving.

Or, simply open the less important one on your computer every day, so it does not slip your consciousness.

One reader said she had a real problem with multiple project: “I would go back and forth between several projects, take forever to publish, and finish very little.” She solved this issue by doing what she calls “writing sprints,” in which she focuses on one project/paper for 1-5 days before switching to the other and she always prioritizes the one closest to publication. So, recently, “when I got the proofs for a accepted paper, I dropped everything, spent a full day on that, and got it back off my plate. Then when I got a minor R&R back, I put my major revision on pause again and worked on the R&R for three days straight before sending it back to my coauthor.” She found that prioritizing in this way allows her to finish projects more quickly, which gives her “joy and energy.”

Works Cited

Boice, Robert. 2000. Advice for New Faculty Members: Nihil nimus: Allyn & Bacon.

Solution to Writing Obstacle No. 25, one of the distraction obstacles listed on page 32 of Belcher’s Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success (University of Chicago Press, 2019).