Friday, June 15, 2012

Procrastination is like a virus

If I've learned one thing about writing over the years, it's this - the more you avoid it, the harder it is to get going. We avoid it for lots of reasons. The blank page is scary, not because it's blank, but because we place so many expectations upon what it should hold when we have written. We want our writing to shine right from the first draft. Heck, we want the first draft to be so darned good that we hardly have to touch it!

But understanding that first drafts can and usually do range from a bit rough right down to absolutely atrocious is the key. If you haven't written something, you have nothing to rewrite. If you haven't at least had a go at getting down that great idea, even if it looks like it curled up and died right in front of you, you'll never know if it's workable.

Today I went to my favorite cafe to write. It's a habit for me now, due to a retired husband in the house. First draft writing - I have to be alone, in my own headspace. The cafe is where I tackle first drafts. Some days the words come easily, especially if I'm working on my novel and can take up where I left off. What happens next has been bubbling away in the back of my head somewhere and it doesn't take much to get it out onto the page.

Today it was like trying to get a hundred splinters out of my brain. Painful, slow, tedious. I wanted to give up. I was working on a new chapter book, I had my character and a brief plot outline. It refused to come to life. It felt stodgy, forced, and incredibly boring. I kept thinking: what kid will ever want to read this rubbish?

But I kept going. I wrote two chapters. I came home feeling depressed. Why was I bothering? (Does this sound familiar?) But then I gave myself a mental slap. I have the beginning of a first draft, I have about 800 words I didn't have this morning, and I have hurdled that first barrier of "how to start". Nothing to complain about. Just 800 words ready for revision. The cure for the procrastination virus? Determination and perseverance. Oh, and good coffee!

6 comments:

Kristi Holl said...

Fantastic post, Sherryl! It was the kick in the pants I needed today. Thanks! :-)

Cathy said...

I agree with Kristi - exactly what I needed. I have loads of writing ideas, I just need to prioritise what to do first.

Sherryl said...

I think I gave myself a kick in the pants, too! Onwards and upwards - just get writing.

Tania McCartney said...

I so agree, Sheryl. Same with writer's block - I just try to push on through and it really works. Also agree on the coffee!

Anonymous said...

nice posting.. thanks for sharing.

arman said...
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