Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Multi-tasking FAILURE

For years I've read about writers who bounce back and forth between current works in progress. Never, never have I been able to figure out how that do it. I'm jealous, too! I would love to take a morning to work on a shifter and then switch gears to my hot, little cowboy story in the afternoon. You know, I figured I must be missing something or just flat not doing something right. So several weeks ago I tackled this. How hard could it be? Take a short break between the two stories and dig in. Riiiiight. That folk saying about teaching  old dogs new tricks definitely applies readily to ME. I just couldn't do it. Not exactly sure why but skipping between stories messes with my WAH, my ZEN, my HAPPY PLACE. Could NOT find my happy place while working on several things at once. It screws with my head and I've now decided I'm just not a multi tasker. I sooo envy women who do many things at once, do a perfect job at each and manage it with every hair in place and hell, they do it in heels.

Most of my friends know that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love it because it's not about gifts. Just a great meal shared with family and loved ones. As I thought today about my super duper multi-tasking failure I wondered about my love of this holiday considering all that cooking. Yes, I do it all from planning the meal, grocery shopping and all preparations (not to mention fancifying everything). Had a conversation with my son the other day about my failure and he laughed...Mom, I can't do it either. I suck at it but hey, you do Thanksgiving, don't you? It's great every year and it's a lot of work.

Yes, son, it is.

 I've been thinking today that maybe I'm not so great at this holiday. I've been fooling myself since I'm not a multi-tasker. I do great until The Mothers show up. I work away, totally in control and in my element but then they arrive and all my calm and cool flies right out the window.

Mom: Honey, can I do something?
Me (putting together a last minute dish): No Mom. Thanks, just sit over there and look pretty.
Mom: Are you sure?
Me (looking up as sweat begins to bead on my forehead): Uh uh. Yeah. Uh. Yes. I'm good. You just sit.
MIL (who can't hear and talks very loudly...bless her heart): Honey, can I do something?
Me (shaking head, trying to smile): Nope. No, you just sit there and look pretty. Sit with Mom. You can look pretty together.
MIL (moving closer, very close, oh about three inches from my face): ARE YOU SURE? Can I set the table?
Me: okay. okay. Sure. (I begin to look frantically for an ingredient only to find it is right in front of me)
MIL: Where are the placemats? Oh can I pour tea?
Mom (jumping up and tired of looking pretty): I can do that. Oh, the tea needs sugar. Where's the sugar? Is it in here? (She then proceeds to open and shut every damn cabinet. In the background Mr. Reg is yelling from his post in front of the game...dinner almost ready? Do you need anything?)
Me (stirring, stirring, forgetting an ingredient, cussing a blue streak before remembering it's Thanksgiving and I'm supposed to be sweet and cheerful): No, not that one Mom. Here wait. It'll be easier if I get it.
Darling Husband (walking in, seeing me wilting and harried): Hey ladies! Lets watch the parade.
MIL and Mom: Ohhhh noooooo. She needs help.
Mom: Honey, you're sweating. Are you okay?
Daughter: (who is quietly watching the chaos) Here you go, Mom. (as she drops two tylenol into my hand)

In the end it all works out as it has for the past twenty-five years but each time, the conversations are the same. For me? Too much info to process coming straight at my head. So I figure I'm not as good at multitasking as I thought.

Talk on the phone and drive? Not happening (nor should it). Walk and chew gum (doubtful). Write two books at once? Nope. Not ever.


Mia Watts said...

You know what it is, Reg? It's the break in concentration. You're fine until people need you to stop what you're doing to tell them what to do, where to find it, etc. It takes you out of your current mind set, which is "the turkey" or "the bean casserole". You have to relocate where you were in order to continue the original project.

The same is true for your writing. If you are wholly engrossed in a story and you switch over, you have to reinvest yourself in a new scenario to get it right.

That's not multi-tasking, that's multiple personality disorder. ;) See? You're sane!

Regina Carlysle said...

Yep. It's all about concentration, isn't it? Often it takes me awhile to wrap my mind around a story, so later unwrapping my mind is difficult.

Beautiful Trouble Publishing said...

I say get that event catered and use paper plates and when the Moms come over let them set the table.

That way, clean up is easier...if peeps want to go old school make a list and give everyone a piece of it to be in charge of...

as far as writing
i multi-task b/c i need a break from a story so go on to the next...this is especially true when writing a tough bit

you know what works for you and considering you have hordes of fans it's working...
now give us more hotness please.

Regina Carlysle said...

Seems like I just can't move seamlessly from one ms. to another like that. My mind gets so entrenched that it's hard. One thing that HAS been working is to write something like 'insert sex here' or 'insert convo here' and then simply write another scene in the story. Then I can go back. Don't do that often but at least when I stall I feel I'm making progress.

Laurann Dohner said...

Regina, we're all good at some things and not so much at others. I can write a few books at a time but...I can't BBQ. I burn shit. I bake. Anything in the oven I can cook but yeah. Put a grill in front of me and it's a disaster. I don't handle Thanksgiving that well unless it's just my husband and kids. If I have people coming, I order dinner. Really. I'm too distracted and yeah...NOT happening. I do that with birthday parties too. I tried to do it all myself and just fell apart inside so now...I order food and break out the paper plates. I'd probably be more set on writing one book at a time but with small kids...my brain is fried so I can book head hop since yeah, the kids are always distracting me anyway until I've become used to splitting my time doing a number of things. LOL. Whatever works for you really does because I LOVE your books!!!

Harlie Williams said...

I don't see how writers can switch between books either. I can switch between books when I read and review but writing would be difficult.

Harlie Williams said...

Now in real life, I'm a 20+ years adminstrative assistant/secretary/personal assistant, whatever they are calling us now. I learned real quick on organizational skills and multi-tasking. Some people have it and some don't. My hubby can only focus on one thing at a time. My dad is the same way. Sure, have I made mistakes and forgotten to do something? You bet, but I don't beat myself over it.

Has for Thanksgiving, we actually go out for it. We are very lazy.

N.J.Walters said...

You gotta do what works for you. We all have things we are good at and things we suck at. *g*

Write two books at once...impossible. I envy those who can. I need to get my head in a book and stay there until the rough draft is done.

Tess MacKall said...

My middle name is "multi-task". I had three kids and no help. No one to bring home the bacon but me or to put it on the table but me. No one to help with homework, get the kids to their appointed rounds, and get them in bed every night.

I've been known to bounce a baby on my hip while stirring a big pot of whatever, with one kid sitting on my feet with her arms and legs wrapped around mine while she is screaming to the top of her lungs. And while I'm doing that, I've got the phone at my ear talking to someone and telling them off about what they just screwed me out of money wise or time wise. And the third child is asking me homework questions and I'm teaching her while all of this is going on.

I'm too old for multi-tasking now. I just shake my head when too many things come flying at me these days. Don't even try to catch them.

Multi-tasking also makes you gain weight. Yep, heard that on the radio the other day. Google it. It's there.

To hell with multi-tasking. I'd just like to get one thing at a time done and I might just live longer too.

Janice Seagraves said...

I think your fine until someone stops you from what your doing.

Whether it's writing or cooking a big dinner for your family, when your in the zone, you don't need interruptions. It pulls your out of the game.


Anonymous said...

I can't imagine trying to write two books at once. But, writing one while checking email, playing on FB, answering the door for my son's friends, making his dinner, and texting...no problem!! Lmao!! I couldn't imagine doing a Thanksgiving meal from scratch. Other than making coffee, I cringe at being inside a kitchen. Any woman who can put on a feast is a hero multitasker.

I laughed myself silly at the multitasking with heels on. That reminded me of the day my boy wanted to learn to ride his bike without training wheels. I went to work and immediately came home and wrenched off the wiener wheels. He hopped on, and off I ran. After about 4 or 5 treks down the street, I was more than winded and my feet were killing me! It may have had something to do with the five inch heels I'd never taken off! Lol!

Great post, Regina!!

Shelley Munro said...

Hey, who said multi-tasking is better anyway? Why not just keep it simple and concentrate on one thing at a time?

And I have to say two mothers in one place would stress me too :)

I'm all about doing what works for me. I'm older now. I can make my own rules *grin*

Regina Carlysle said...

Sorry I'm so late posting back. GAH. Multi-tasking misery today. I used to be GOOD at this.

Regina Carlysle said...

HHAHHAAHAHHA. @ Laurann. I feel better now. YOu do a great job at working several books at once. Wish like heck I could do it. I'd thought it would be easier once the kids were grown and gone but NO.

Regina Carlysle said...

Yeah, Harley. Some people are 'gifted' like you are. Guess I'm more like your hubby. Once upon a time I was better at it and knew I had to be organized. Hmmm. I wonder if there's some kind of pill to help me stay focused?

Regina Carlysle said...

Aw, NJ. I'm glad I'm not the only writer who can't do this? Like you, I'm really envious.

Regina Carlysle said...

Yeah Tess, I used to do it. Looooong ago but those days are over. I'm going to stop sweating it. One at a time is A-okay.

Regina Carlysle said...

Janet, you are 100 percent right about this. I lose concentration so easily. It's frustrating. Even music messes me up.

Regina Carlysle said...

Elece you crack me up, girl! Yeah, multi-tasker in HEELS. That's you.

Regina Carlysle said...

Hmmmm. Shelley you're right. We have to do things our own way. Making my own rules? What a concept! I think I like that.