Tag Archives: procrastination

The Big Pause

23 Nov

by Savannah J. Foley

~~~

(cross-posted from my personal blog)

Recently I read this article by Jaye Wells, and it cleared something up for me about writer’s block and how I write.

Usually when I’m working on a novel I encounter a point I call The Big Pause. It occurs 75% of the way through the story, when all the meat is out of the way and all that’s left is to write the big finale.

I stop.

I tell myself it’s because I don’t exactly know what’s going to happen next, and how can I write it if I don’t know what to write, but that’s not really the reason. I know how it all ends up. I don’t have a firm grasp on the details, but I never do for any scene. Somewhere in all the work it just magically comes together.

But the above-mentioned article pointed out what was really going on: The Big Pause is my moment of fear. It’s the point where the book is about to turn into a reality. Soon it’s going to be a finished product, not something I’m just working on for fun. I’m going to have to show it off. Be responsible for its perfection. And that’s scary.

But not the only thing that scares me. The biggest reason I have a Big Pause is that I’m afraid what I’m going to write is total crap.

I don’t have this problem in the first three quarters of the book. As a friend once put it, I write really clean first drafts. I’m not saying everything comes out sparkling, and there have definitely been some scenes I’ve had to cut or seriously modify. But to put it in perspective, for the sleeping beauty story there was only one scene I really struggled with. One that got completely rewritten out of a whole book.

So when I have to face the prospect of writing just to get it done, I freeze up. I love the idea of writing messy and cleaning it up, or maybe I love the idea of getting into that mental space where you know, as the creator, exactly what needs to go, what can stay, and what just needs to be fixed. But when the moment comes I really struggle with writing a sentence I’m not happy with the first time around.

(This is starting to sound like I’m not capable of editing, and let me say that’s definitely not true. After everything I’ve gone through with NAMELESS I feel confident in stating I absolutely know how to edit and mix things up 😉 )

I also read recently that procrastination is sometimes defined by fear and guilt. The fear that once the story is complete it will have to actually BE a functioning, sellable story. The guilt that it’s not moving fast enough, that it’s maybe not as amazing as I’d hoped.

My Pause usually lasts a few weeks, and by that time I’ve gestated the issues in my mind well enough to know how to sprint towards the finish. But I don’t want that to turn into a habit. I want to learn to let go, and give myself permission to write the story clearly not perfect, because it can always be fixed later.

It can always be fixed later.

That’s what editing is for, after all.

I now declare The Big Pause officially over!

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The Procrastination Queen

28 Apr

By Sammy Bina

~~~

I’ve been trying to think of something to write for today for a while. I made a list of potential topics I could discuss, but none of them seemed quite right. I considered writing you guys a book recommendation, or talking to you about all the exciting novels coming out this summer. I thought about comparing books vs. their television counterparts, but I decided to save that for a day when I’m more coherent.

So what did I decide to write about?

Procrastination. (Even as I write this, I’m putting off a paper that’s due tomorrow. I know. It’s sad.)

I’d like to take this moment to go on record as saying I’m a huge fan of Glee. Yep, that’s right. I’m a Gleek. But I’m sure I’m not the only one, so how many of you watched last night’s episode, Born This Way? For those of you who didn’t, the premise was to come to accept something about yourself you cannot change. Then the kids wore t-shirts with those things written across the chest. I rather liked the idea, and decided this would be mine:

(Yes, my photoshop skills are boss.)

(Not.)

The last few weeks have been insanely busy for me, due to the fact that I’m graduating soon. In the midst of all the school chaos, I had to worry about applying to grad school, jobs, and finding somewhere to live. I got so wrapped up in worrying about things that were going to happen that I forgot about the things I currently had to deal with. Like papers and that one thing we all have in common: writing.

It’s funny. It seems that whenever I have time to write, I put it off and work on other things, and when I have absolutely no free time, I find myself glued to Word. It’s a horrible, vicious cycle of me procrastinating. I never seem to want to do the things I have time for until the time to do them no longer exists. It makes for a really awkward, unreliable writing schedule, and it’s proven to be quite the inhibition.

I love writing. This should go without saying. But as many of us here at LTWF have expressed, we have our doubts. And when I doubt myself, I procrastinate. If that scene isn’t turning out right, I put it aside and say I’ll come back to it later. Only later stretches further and further until I’ve psyched myself out so much, I don’t want to even look at it anymore. Even if it isn’t that bad.

Sometimes I have a hard time nailing a character down. I can see them in my head just fine, but they don’t come out on the page that way. So I rewrite everything. And then I do it again, because I’m still not happy. Then I get frustrated and walk away, come back, and tell myself I’ll just keep writing and fix it all later. Which proves to be a problem because then I end up with an entire story written with one majorly flawed character. And not in a good way. By procrastinating, I’ve given myself even more work to do.

I’ve been waiting for some free time (or lack there of) to come up so I could get back into my current WIP. The problem is, I’ve been away from it for over a month, and now I’m almost too scared to go back and look at it. What if it’s not as good as I remember? What if those scenes I left hanging are even more of an enigma? What if that one character I couldn’t get quite right remains a total mystery? By putting things off, I’ve psyched myself out. I’m left feeling rattled, and I haven’t even seen the manuscript in weeks.

The point I’m trying to make, dear readers, is that procrastination is not your friend. This may seem obvious, but somehow I still get wrapped up in it from time to time. I let doubt push me toward other, less productive things, like baking or marathoning 90s British TV. And while baking and television are all well and good, they aren’t the thing I love the most. I’m not trying to make a career out of cookies or laziness. So this week I decided to put a note beside my bed that simply says ‘WRITE! (Even if it scares you.)’ Because putting it off hasn’t done me a lick of good. I’ve been stressing myself out needlessly over a story that I love. That I hope, one day, other people will read and love. So I’m going to dive back in. I’m accepting the fact that I was born this way, that I can be a major procrastinator when I want to be, and am trying to overcome that and all the doubt it instills.

And on that note, I’d like to leave you with some parting words of wisdom:

Procrastination: don’t do it.

~~~

Sammy Bina is finishing up her last semester of college as a creative writing major. She’s currently revising her YA dystopian, SILENCE, and is an intern for the Elaine P. English Literary Agency. You can follow her blog, tumblr, or find her on twitter.