“The wheel turns and returns” is a pagan term for the phases of the seasons, the passage of time, etc. I as a creator use it as my template for how to keep my projects moving forward.
Many people are amazed by how I churn out such a high volume of work in such a short amount of time. The answer is simple – I’m working on multiple projects at the same time.
Working on a single project from start to finish takes far too long and causes burn out. Many writers (and artists) have the false belief that the most efficient way to complete a project is by focusing singularly, as other projects are a “distraction”. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
The secret is The Wheel of Work. Having multiple projects in different phases of completion on your current “work table” is how to maintain focus to complete more projects faster and to help prevent burn out. This is the secret to how I am able to keep projects moving forward and market them at the same time. For the purposes of this particular blog, I’m going to use the writing process for the Wheel of Work, however, the same can be applied to almost any type of project.
The main phases of my Wheel of Work are New Idea, Currently Creating, Editing, *Illustrating, Shopping for Publishers, and Publication/Release.
These different phases are separated by the different stages required to finish a novel, as well as utilize different parts of my brain. New Idea and Currently Creating are the inspiration and creative parts of my brain. Whereas Editing is the technical and logical part of my brain. Illustrating is inspiration and creative, but it utilizes completely different skills and thought process than writing a story. And finally, Shopping for Publishers and Publication/Release uses the research and advertising part of my brain, the looking out at my audience and seeing how best to reach them.
Typically, I’m working on at least 3 or 4 of these phases at the same time. For example, in 2019 I was focusing on finishing my third novel Geisha Hands. I had already completed the Editing phase of this project and was in the thick of the Illustrating phase. At the same time, I was working on the Editing phase of my fourth novel Freja’s Baby. As I worked on these two projects, inspiration would hit me, and I would work on writing a few pages for the New Idea phase. When I was feeling burnt out with both Geisha Hands and Freja’s Baby, I would work on the Currently Creating phase of my fifth novel Succumb to Darkness, and the first book of my Super Secret YA Series.
Thus, I worked on four sections of the Wheel of Work at the same time, and completed my third novel for Release/Publication on December 12, 2019. Working on these other sections did not “take time away” from working on Geisha Hands. Instead, it refreshed my mind and kept my motivation up so that I could finish the 29 illustrations I still had left to complete after finishing 18 illustrations in 2018.
The Wheel of Work also helps to prioritize your projects. By lining up what project I want to complete next and what project I want to complete after that I have a clear set of goals that can be met. Often, deciding what project to work on next, or determining what project is “important” to work on next can be intimidating and cause procrastination on starting work on a project. Having the Wheel line up your projects keeps this problem at a minimum so you can maintain focus and motivation.
The only issue with the Wheel of Work is that it can be tempting to take on too many projects at once. Having multiple projects in the same phase is not recommended, as this can bog down the process and cause burn out. It’s best to have only one project per phase in the wheel at a time in order to maximize motivation and division of effort. Switching gears to work on a different project in the same phase of the wheel temporarily can sometimes help with interest and motivation, but then you might need to ask yourself if this project is becoming more “important” than the one you currently have assigned to the Wheel of Work.
Working on more than one project in a phase of the Wheel can cause burn out and overlap. While in the Currently Creating phase of Geisha Hands, I was also in this phase for a story I was ghost writing. Unfortunately, the “voice” of the ghost writing project began leaking into Geisha Hands, and I ended up having to rewrite the entire ending of my novel so that the voice was true to the story.
The Wheel of Work also makes it easier to market your work to the public and keep their interest. While making regular posts on social media about the Illustrations I was completing for Geisha Hands, I was also making posts about what chapters of Freja’s Baby I had completed Editing. This planted the seed for my readers, and potential readers, that after Geisha Hands comes out another book is on the horizon for them to also purchase and enjoy. Geisha Hands has only been released and available for purchase for a little over 3 weeks and I already have readers excited about Freja’s Baby being released.
In addition to posting about soon to be completed projects like Geisha Hands and Freja’s Baby, posting about projects in their early stages like Succumb to Darkness and my Super Secret YA Series plants the seed of interest in my readers. Then when these “newer” projects get into the later stages of the Wheel of Work readers are already familiar with the project and become excited for their completion.
Try out the Wheel of Work for yourself and see how switching your projects up can give you that boost your motivation really needs!