The power of three

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A watercolour of a rusted-out building on Route 356 outside Abiko that I rattled off the other day even though I was far too busy with far more important projects on the go…

I can’t remember where I read it now, possibly the Japan Times, and I’m not even sure who said it, maybe Donald Richie, but anyway, it was a piece of advice that goes counter to the prevailing wisdom pedalled to writers to always focus on the work in progress and get that done before moving on to the next project.

But Richie (or possibly Keith Richards, my memory is so addled at this wine of night) said he always had three projects on the go: the one he was working on right now, one in pre-production, one in post-production.

This struck a chord with me. If you have three projects up in the air, you always have something useful to be getting on with that can defeat whatever funk you might be in at the moment.

And it’s working for me. The current project consuming most of my time is writing and laying out a textbook for sixth-grade learners of English as a foreign language in the Tower Talk series. But when another example of the passive voice just can’t be faced, I open a Scrivener document or *whisper this* open a page in my paper diary, and scribble a few ideas for my next project. Currently, that is an ebook on how to teach English in Japan from your living room. And my post-production project is the second Hana Walker novel that I just got back from proof-reading. I’m working on the cover now.

The moral of the story? If you’re struggling with a creative project, don’t beat yourself up if you hit a brick wall. Sidestep to another one in a different stage and keep the ball rolling.

It’s all about balancing past, present and future, baby. And a colouring book squeezed in between too.

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