On Friday I started off talking about multi-tasking, and ended up on the subject of finishing projects. There is certainly no point in putting away the laptop and notebooks after sending a manuscript out to publishers and agents. If you want to make a career from writing you need to produce more than one book or article. But there are other times when it might be a good idea to turn to another project for a while.
I found it hard (read impossible) earlier this year to get back into the edits I needed to make in Lives Interrupted. I would open the manuscript; open the edit file containing my notes on what I had completed, and what was still left to do. I would read a few lines and feel this unbearable weight press down on me. It was as though I was preparing to climb a mountain. I'd close the files and walk away from my laptop.
It wasn't that I didn't want to write, but more that it seemed insignificant compared to what was happening at the time.
Ultimately, in an effort just to write, I put the editing aside and started working on a short story to submit for a competition.
It took a while but it worked, and I came out the other side with a renewed enthusiasm to get back to my novel. Sometimes we do need to put a project aside and work on something else - just not too often I guess, or we end up with a hard drive of unfinished writing.