I’m one of those people who can only be in one of two modes at any one time—writing mode or reading mode. Either I’m elbows-deep in writing a novel or something writing-related like editing/proofing etc., or I’m lost to the wonderful world of reading. I can’t do both at once… I can’t, like, write for half a day and then go and read a book. I also can’t swap between books like how some people change socks and then change back again (I’ve heard this is a real thing!). I have to stay in the one story, mine or someone else’s, until it’s done (or until I get bored of it, if it’s a book I’m not particularly enjoying).
I’ve always been like this, though. I think it’s part of the reason why I can churn out a novel so quickly. I recently finished writing the third book in The Medoran Chronicles within a space of 40 days—and it wasn’t a small book! I wrote 137,000 words in that time, while also keeping a part-time job and doing a pretty heavy first round of copy-editing for the second book in the series while that was happening. But I think the main reason I was able to do all that was because I was utterly consumed by the story. And that’s what happens to me—I literally lose myself into another world for a chunk of time and only come up for air when I’m done.
To be honest, I’m not one hundred percent certain whether it’s healthy, at least mentally. Mostly because it feels a little bit like my characters come to life after I’ve “been around them” for such a concentrated period of time. Case in point, when I finished writing my most recent book just a few weeks ago, I went out to lunch with a friend a few days later and I was like, “Oh, look! Real people to talk to!” Haha.
It’s a funny thing, writing. Just as it’s a funny thing to read. I mean, I maintain that a good book is the perfect escape from life. It’s nice to jump out of our own shoes for a little while and into someone else’s. But for me, as I mentioned before, I can’t multi-task my stories. That’d be like watching Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire but turning it off halfway through and putting on Twilight all because of some weird Robert Pattinson character change-up urge. I just can’t do that! (For sooooo many reasons!)
But hey, maybe it’s just me. I know plenty of people who can read a number of different books all at the one time. Well, not at the one time, since that would be quite the talent, but I mean they can swap between different stories and keep jumping between characters and worlds and still keep everything straight in their heads. I also know plenty of authors who can balance their time between both writing and reading. But as for me, when I’m stuck in a good story, I have to devour it from beginning to end. No exceptions.
What about you? I’m curious to hear who is of the same mind as me—just as I’m curious to hear how many competent multi-taskers and multi-story-readers there are out there! Let me know your thoughts!