At the Baltimore Book Fest I had a 40 minute conversation with a Ms Hannah Trieb all about procrastination, writers block and how to beat it. You see Ms Trieb asked my advice about writing because like me she is a natural procrastinator, so I offered her some of my insights. I do kind of wish I recorded everything because now three – four days after the fact I might have forgotten some of the wisest parts.
First off I am a terrible procrastinator, you can lock me in a room with a computer with no internet access, with no distractions in the room and you can come back a few hours later and I will most likely be performing maintenance on the computer to improve its performance. Yes, I am that bad. In many ways I am like one of my writing heroes Douglas Adams, any excuse to not write.
You see the problem is goals and setting them… I once heard you’re not a writer unless you write every day, that you must write 5000+ words to call yourself a real writer. While they might have a point I think it is pure nonsense… Most of this stuff I read on writer forums, and most of those proclaiming this are not writing or producing anything. After all if they are busy writing how are they finding time to post on forums?
A Writer writes to tell the story that is inside of us, from a story of our life, to stories about Teddy Bears who protect us from the Monsters under the bed. Writing is a labor, a building of a wall one brick at a time until it is complete. It doesn’t matter if we write 5000+ words a night or 500 a week, what matters is telling that story and finding its ending.
Now I warn you, I’ve found this works for me even if it’s a little crazy. In the end you have to find what works for you, but hey… If the following advice helps please let me know.
So fool yourself into writing… This is what I do, I have a family so I cannot write every night so I don’t and I do not beat myself up over not writing, this can be more paralyzing than you can imagine. Tell yourself you will write sometime that week or that day, don’t set a task of words, just write something. Little by little a story forms and before you know it you begin to care about the characters, the story and find yourself feeling excited about writing. You’ve fooled yourself into writing and your story will take form.
Ms Trieb also asked me how do I write? My first answer was badly which confused her, because our first drafts are bad, really, really painfully bad, so bad you look back over them and you want to tear your eyes out, this though is a good thing. First drafts are supposed to be bad because you are getting your story out, so get it out! Worry about tidying it up when you go back through it once you’ve finished, not before.
Then she asked how do I plan. This is a fun answer, I write my story one line at a time. Every chapter I plan is one line that tells me very briefly what is going to happen, who is in the chapter and what the goal is. I’ve found it works for me and is again kind of cheating because I’ve already got that story out, and from this point I’m just fine tuning my story.
So she finished up asking what is my secret, my reply was simply ‘just write on your own terms’.
I hope I’ve helped her, most likely confused her, but you never know she might be the next big thing I do hope so. You can check out her work on Summer Circus here. She is a talented girl and I wish her all the luck in her quest to finish her story.
Okay enough of my rantings now, thank you for listening.
Be good to the Earth now.