donderdag 19 juni 2014

The Power of Procrastination

The blank page: a writer's worst enemy

Many beginning writers will have experienced the fear that comes with starting a novel. While everything is in your head, you can play around with characters and situations as much as you like, and everything will look beautiful. However, getting the first words onto a page can be terrifying.

One mistake I made, was thinking everything needed to be perfect once it was written down. That can be a paralyzing thought. I cannot count the number of times I deleted my first sentence.

Then, I came across a bunch of articles that deal with this problem. K. M. Weiland, Writing with Confidence, and Jon Gingerich all agree on one thing: don't overthink your first draft. It's all right for a first draft to be less than perfect. In fact, Anne Lamott sums it up quite nicely in her book Bird by Bird: 'Write shitty first drafts!'

Once I allowed myself to write badly, the blank page was just a sandbox for me to play in. And the words starting flowing!

Sticking with the schedule

During the last three days, I've written exactly 11.983 words. Not bad, for someone with a full-time job and a partner that detests cooking. I'm hoping this is not the writer's equivalent of beginner's luck, but I don't know if I will be able to sustain this pace.

The thing is, I'm a procrastinator. I've been talking about writing a book for years and have only just now started writing. Recently, I read an excellent article on how to turn procrastination to your advantage.

In short, you have to make a to-do-list. At the very top, you put something that's important, but not really urgent. In order to avoid having to do that task, you'll try to procrastinate. And since we love fooling ourselves into thinking we are being productive, you're most likely to pick one of the other items on your list.

It's a surprisingly effective technique, and it has helped me focus on writing. The only problem is that writing has now become my top priority, which means that I will do anything to avoid working on my first draft.

This blog is an excellent example of productive procrastination. You read a lot of articles about the importance of an online platform for aspiring writers. So what I'm doing right now can only help me in the long run, right?

Not entirely. It will become important later, but at the moment, I still only have 11.983 words. To get that novel written down, I'll have to put in a lot more hours. Hours that I can't waste on blogging, in other words.

This article on the importance of Butt-in-chair time (no, I am not making this up) illustrates just why I should be writing at the moment.

And on that note, I will glue myself to my chair for the next two hours. On to 15.000 words!

The Noveling Novice

How do you get started on a new writing project? How do you motivate yourself to reach your word count goals? I would love to hear from you!

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