Just last night, during a conversation about missing homework, I told my son (in a very frustrated tone of voice) to just sit his butt down in a chair and do the work. Just get it done. Quit procrastinating, quit finding excuses, and just work. A few hours later I was sitting in front of my new laptop, playing Mah Johng, and not writing. And I had to cringe when my voice echoed inside my head, reminding me of what I’d told the fifteen year old. Isn’t it easy to give advice? When it comes to writing, it’s also impossible to follow that same advice.
It shouldn’t be that hard right now. I’m not working on anything new. I’m not struggling to create a character or send a plot soaring, or trying to get that dialog just right. Instead I’m reworking a story I wrote years ago, as I’ve mentioned earlier. I’m having fun reading it again. I’m having fun cutting and pasting and swapping things around and even deleting things. I’m meeting much stronger characters, and even some new ones who should have been in the story to begin with but were obviously hiding in the shadows. All in all it’s much less work when compared to the first time around. And yet I’m procrastinating and looking for things to delay the moment when I have to step into that world again. Why?
Well, once it’s done I might have to come up with something new. That’s a terrifying thought. What if there isn’t anything new? I know that’s a common fear of writers, but still, the possibility looms. What if I’m just wasting my time and this rework won’t be any better than the first time around? Or worse, what if I’m just filling time? So many ‘what if’s’.
The other odd thing is that once I finally sit down and start working, I slide right into that alternate universe and leave this one behind and fall in love all over again with writing. I have fun, I get lost in the story, and I’m happy with what I’ve done with it when I finish. Which makes me wonder even more why it’s so hard to start.
It’s all just weird, plain and simple. Guess it’s time to follow my advice.
4 thoughts on “Set Yourself Down a Spell”
I once read somewhere that you shouldn’t go back to a story that you stopped writing because there was a reason you stopped writing it. I didn’t agree with it. And I read your blog. This is why I didn’t agree with the not going back advice. Sometimes there is wisdom in going back to what you’ve written before. If anything, it’s there to help you find your way if you’ve lost it.
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You are so right about going back to help find your way forward. I worry that reworking this story is fun because it’s more like editing than writing, and that I’m simply avoiding writing. But the more I play with the old story the more I’m coming to realize that worry is groundless. I’m creating new characters and plot, just within a framework that’s safe and comfortable. Plus I think anything that keeps us working with words is a good thing. Thanks for the great comment.
I have the same thing when I plan to sit down to write. When I open my laptop and tell myself I want to go with my story I procrastinate with checking emails and Facebook and playing games, just like you said. And I wondered myself why I do this, since I love my story.
Sometimes though I am stuck in the moment and dont know how to go on to the next scene that I already picture in my head. And I know that I dont want to just jump over to the next scene but fill it out, which is “the problem”. I am stuck with how to build the bridge and since that is not a pleasent thing but rather like work/homework, I try to avoid it. Just like I did as a teenager, when I had to write an essay or any other homework…
So just like I did with finishing homework, I set myself an ultimatum of one more game or just the emails or set a time and it works better. Not all the time, but though.
Thats why I dont get enough sleep a lot of times. I procrastinate until it is so late that I really have to turn off the lights.
Life is soooo hard….
Jenni: next time I see you procrastinating with the laptop open and a game on, I’ll remind you of this!