Monday, October 20, 2008

Procrastination is inertia

One might think that writers would relish every aspect of writing. I can't speak for everyone, but there are some days when I'm not so thrilled about my new career. There are parts of writing that are hard for me and when I come up against them my insecurities roar to life, making it harder to get moving again.

I sometimes procrastinate during the creative process of the first draft and in editing. For the most part I enjoy all aspects of writing, but some days the words don't coalesce in the usual manner. On those days, I will do a few more household chores, run some errands, visit a friend - or whatever else comes up to keep from writing slop.

Within the first draft, if I find myself coming up with yet another reason not to write, it's usually because I don't have a clear idea of where the story goes next. Then I realize the keyboard is not the place to be. For me, the dreaming-up place is on my sunporch with a notebook on my lap. I sit there for however long it takes, writing thoughts, fragments, clothing, anything, until my subconscious starts pulling various bits together into a cohesive scene. Once I get a sense of momentum, it's back to the keyboard for me and the words sing off my fingertips.

During editing, I take a layered approach, examining different aspects of the story on successive passes. When I find myself stalling on editing days, its often because, on some level, I want to believe in my earlier draft. I want to believe that I can write a perfect story in one pass. So far that hasn't happened. The good news is that the level of CPR required to bring a story up to publication specs lessens with each story. The trick for me is to stay on task, to not get so carried away with the big picture that I can't see the details. Sometimes I procrastinate because the areas I correct through editing are my weak areas; hence I don't appreciate them as much. But I just have to get over myself and roll up my sleeves.

Sometimes I procrastinate if it seems like I don't have a large enough chunk of time to write. I'll psych myself out thinking that its a waste of time to start writing and then have to stop before I'm ready because I have to go to work. Then I realize that each word written adds to the word count. Some weeks all I have are stolen moments of time. If I didn't keep going, the next book would never get written.

Do I procrastinate? Sure. Do I recognize what I'm doing and why? Most of the time. Then I figure out a way to get going again. Action - it drives our plots, it writes our books.


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