“It took me fifteen years to discover that I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous.”
Robert Benchley

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

13 Ways Of Looking At... Procrastination
Mon 2009-05-25 20:32:20 (single post)

So there's this One-Minute Weird Tales thing, which I may have mentioned before. At this time, there's just one on the site. Weird Tales would like there to be more, so, they're encouraging submissions. So I wrote a little something... oh, Tuesday. I think. Yeah. Tuesday.

I just submitted it today.

Why so long? Because I couldn't decide on a freaking title, that's why! Gah. But then, in a story 120 words long, the title comprises a non-trivial percentage of the text, right? Deserves a bit of thought, right? Possible not six days of thought, though. In any case, I stopped whiffling, and it's on it's way now. Go me.

In other news, I've started pulling another story idea out of the Demonbox and potentially into the light of other people's eyeballs. Kicking and screaming. See, I'm in Chicago. It's Monday night. Monday night in Chicago means Twilight Tales Open Mic! Or, as it turned out, Twilight Tales Mini-Workshop. I wanted to bring something short to share and get critiqued, just in case there was room on the schedule. So I spent much of today trying to decide which half-baked idea might profitably go back into the oven. And then, once I decided, I spent half the afternoon getting around to the blackbirds-leaving-the-wire moment of "OK, all right, time to get to work! Really!"

So I ended up leaving myself only 30 minutes to get a real draft done--as opposed to the "babble draft" that was sitting on my hard drive, containing characters with no excuse for being in the story beyond the fact that they were in front of my eyes when I wrote it. I mean, this two-year-old draft had "I Am A Writing Exercise!" written all over it. You read it, you can almost hear Natalie Goldberg's voice saying "What are you looking at? Fifteen minutes. Go." And this was not getting turned into something presentable in 30 minutes.

Which was fine. On the one hand, the event was well attended, and the last person due a turn in the hot seat ended up postponing until next time. No one was hurting for me not offering up more that my opinions on others' writing. (As to that: Gods, I'm a mouth. Sorry.) And on the other hand, the simple act of getting started on the draft was beneficial in and of itself. Now I have something else to work on during my multi-city writing retreat.

A bit about the "getting started." This came up on the Absolute Write forums: Someone started a thread called "How do you motivate yourself to write?" Someone who, much like me (more frequently than I like to admit), has a work in progress but has a hard time making themselves sit down and work on progressing it. And the thread turned into a real treasure house of strategies for beating writer's block. Writers being a varied bunch, the suggestions offered were wildly divergent. So... read it. If one trick doesn't work for you, another will. Some depend on guilt and duty, others on excitement and play. Others depend on psychology, hypnosis, mood-altering of the non-drug-related kind. Some mix and match!

My main contribution was about the "getting started" thing that I keep mentioning but not really going into. My issue is, once I get the right momentum going, it sustains itself. The trick is generating that momentum in the first place. I've got, like, rubber in my butt and springs in my ALT-TAB fingers--I sit down, I get up again; I open up my word processor of choice, I ALT-TAB away to some blog or other. What finally works is to identify the first bite of any given task: Reading the critiques. Fixing the teeny-tiny nit-picky stuff in the draft. Describing the one scene. Printing out the babble draft and scribbling notes on it. Something, some small nibble like that--it "tricks" me into entering the room where the story is, and being in that room at all will result in story happening. For five hours, if need be.

(I have to admit that being away from constant Internet access does help.)

So I'm all started now. With any luck (and discipline), I'll manage to continue the momentum tomorrow evening on the train. We Shall See.

(Boy, this entry fits under a lot of categories. Also, I'm sure we can dig out 9 other ways of looking at procrastination and make a nifty pastiche reeeeal easy. "A writer and a story / Are one. / A writer and a story and an hour of Puzzle Pirates / Are one." You can probably fill in the rest.)