I should be writing. I mean, technically I’m writing right now. This is a blog post that consists of more than me sharing a bunch of my favorite memes and gifs. So far all intents and purposes, I am in fact writing.
That’s not what I mean, though. I’m supposed to be writing Book Three in my Queen of the League series. We’re planning to publish it in fall, which makes sense. It’s the third book in a series about a young woman who is trying to dominate a fantasy football league. It should be released while people have football on their minds. With that deadline looming, I really need to stop dallying around.
It sounds simple enough. Come up with a book idea. Develop the characters and story. Right the book. Revise it. Send it away to the publisher, and then repeat from step one. There are some authors who make a practice of writing every single day. We’re not just talking a few words—which I can usually manage to do. They set a word or page count goal, and they write until they fulfill it. That’s a great method. I love the concept. It speaks to the Type A-minus person in me. (Yeah, Type A-minus is a thing. Google it.) It’s the goal I set for myself every time I write a book.
But let me stand in my truth here and confess that after writing five books, I’ve come to realize that procrastination is part of my method. I don’t particularly like that about myself. One day I will change and be more like the authors I admire who set and achieve their daily goals. Just like someday, I’ll overcome my carbohydrates and candy addiction and stick to a meal and exercise plan that will help me achieve the healthy physique I’d really prefer to have.
It’s not that I don’t love my story. I was recently talking to a friend, who happens to be a fellow author, and we discussed how sometimes when we’re struggling to write a scene, it usually means we’re bored with it. If we’re bored, then readers will probably be bored too, so we skip. That’s actually a great place to be. That means you’re so well into the mindset of writing your book, you understand what does and doesn’t work. That’s not why I’m struggling now. I’m just taking my time to get to that point. I end up spending days, weeks, and sometimes months (and, okay, occasionally years) toying with a story idea, writing out scenes, only to decide it’s all crap before everything clicks and I can’t write my ideas fast enough.
Again, that’s part of my process. I don’t particularly like that. I’d rather just write the story the way it’s supposed to be the first time. And I’d really rather have that drive to wake up every morning before dawn to write, write, and write. Sometimes I can, but it’s the exception, not the rule. And while I’m waiting for that light to spark, I come up with plenty of ways to distract myself.
In the past week, here’s a list of some of the things I did instead of writing:
-I watched the latest episode of “American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ.” Twice.
-I read The Run of His Life: The People versus OJ Simpson by Jeffrey Toobin. But I had to read it. I’ve had my name on the waiting list at the library since the show premiered, and it finally came in.
-I read On the Banks of Plum Creek. (I’m re-reading thirty of my favorite books and series this year to celebrate my upcoming thirtieth birthday, so I had to do this sometime.)
-I watched “It’s All Copy,” which prompted me to go the library and pickup Heartburn and I Feel Bad About My Neck, which I read, and I Remember Nothing, which is probably going to be read by the time this post goes live. But it’s Nora Ephron, one of my writing heroines, so really, it’s motivation, not procrastination.
-I finished reading The Selected Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder, edited by William Anderson. (See previous bullet for my explanation of why this was crucially important.)
-I did a bunch of laundry. It had to be done. I was out of underwear, and it was do laundry or buy more underwear (which is a habit I’m trying to break now that I’m almost thirty, and I should really start acting like a grown-up).
-I wrote a short essay about the possibility of my having a raccoon or squirrels in my attic and the intrigue that’s providing. I’m not sure what I’ll do with it. Maybe I’ll put it on my blog, but it was a writing exercise, I guess.
-I watched “Dead 7” and wrote a list of complaints about how it didn’t live up to my expectations, primarily because it wasn’t campy enough.
-I came up with this list of excuses.
I’m really good at making up excuses. And procrastinating. By working on this blog post, I’ve successfully accomplished both. I have also now made myself feel guilty enough that I’m going to open up my work in progress and finish the scene I started last night. Which is what I did after doing everything I included on this list. That means I’m not writing this book as quickly as I should, but I’m still making progress. That’s something.
It’s all about checks and balances. And making sure you have a guilty conscious that is fueled by my procrastination.
Thanks to Aimee for having me on the blog, today. Happy blogiversary!
Laura Chapman is the author of Going for Two, First & Goal, The Marrying Type, and Hard Hats and Doormats. Her work also appears in Merry & Bright, A Kind of Mad Courage, and the holiday collection All I Want For Christmas from Marching Ink. She loves Huskers and Packers football, Netflix marathons, and her cats, Jane and Bingley. Laura makes her home in Nebraska, where she is penning her next novel. Be sure to connect with her on social media.
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