Donna Moore is guest blogging for me today. She actually wrote this for me weeks ago, but I PROCRASTINATED. With Nanowrimo behind me and Christmas still a few weeks away, I’m forcing myself to get a few things done. Okay, I’m avoiding a writing project that has me stumped.
Before I hand my blog over to Donna, I want you to know what a special person she is. About three years ago I was matched up on an online critique group. If that sounds kind of like a blind date, it is. Sometimes the matches work, and sometimes…well, not so much. This group works. Donna is a constant encourager. She has three children and a husband and always shows by example how to love God through loving her family. Donna is always there when I need to talk, vent or when I need someone to pray for me. Her heart is tender and huge. She is one of the unexpected blessings I’ve been granted through my writing career. Thank you, Donna!
I have learned that my friends on Facebook have nothing to say. Not that what they say isn’t intelligent and important. That isn’t it at all. I have amazing friends. I mean, they simply weren’t updating as often as I was checking. Shouldn’t someone have something to post every two seconds?
This week I struggled with Blank-Page Syndrome. It is a painful experience for any writer. I was creative this week in my avoidance of the blank page and taunting cursor. I often tell my teenage son not to procrastinate, but when it comes to writing when I am up against a wall of little to no ideas, often I find myself doing just this. It’s another case of do as I say and not as I do.
It’s not that I’m not productive during my procrastination sessions. Things get done that I would normally put off for another. Yes, procrastination at times rules my life. In honor of my procrastination techniques I wrote a poem which also served as another way to avoid dealing with my manuscript.
If you give a writer a blank screen some will take off and write an amazing adventure, but others will clean their house and vacuum the living room twice just to see if the canister will fill up again.
If you give a writer a blank screen you might find yourself wrapped in the arms of a dashing hero as he woos his lady love, but others will take their puppy on a walk and pretend it was the dog’s idea.
If you give a writer a blank screen they might have you flying into outer space on in a hot air balloon, but others might check their Facebook just to see if anything has happened in their friend lives within the last two seconds.
If you give a writer a blank screen you could find yourself sailing the seas with a rogue pirate or coaching a football game of misfits, but others will organize the pantry alphabetically.
If you give a writer a blank screen they might write about a widower finding his second love or they could go scrub the bathrooms paying special attention to the area around the toilet.
If you give a writer a blank screen they might pull you right into the middle of a world surrounded with elves and dwarfs, but then others will go and mow the yard instead.
If you give a writer a blank screen they could take you to exotic locations, but then others will go to the grocery store for the fourth time that week just to walk up and down the aisles.
If you give a writer a blank screen those who sit down and write have the potential to do amazing things while others, well they will do lots of other things.
I joke about how much effort I put into avoiding writing this week when I find such joy in actually writing. The advice I have heard the most is “Put your butt in the seat and write every day.” It’s true. You can’t grow as a writer by avoiding writing anymore that you can grow as an athlete by avoiding practicing your sport. You don’t wake up one morning and decide to run 26.2 miles anymore than you can wake up and write an amazing story in one day. You have to work at it daily with diligence and perseverance. You have to train even on the days when it doesn’t come easily and everything you write you know will be cut. There are things that you can do to help get yourself in the seat daily. I feel I should reveal that this is an area I struggle with on the days and weeks when writing is hard but then you probably guessed that about me.
First, set up your area with little distractions. If you are like me, and seeing a messy house distracts you, find a space where you can’t see the shoes all over the living room or the laundry folded but not put away on the couch. I love to write on my swing on the back porch. I can’t see the clutter in the house and if I leave phones inside no one can find me. Salesmen can ring the doorbell all day long, but I simply can’t hear it out back.
Next, set a time. I am also going to add, and this is a hard one for me, if you sit down at the same time everyday you will become conditioned to know that this is your writing time. I would also add, you need to guard this time as the jewel it is. Don’t allow others to intrude. Don’t make appointments or set up meetings during your appointed writing time. Avoid self-imposed distractions. Turn off the internet to your computer while you write. Email, Facebook and other social media outlets will act as distractions. Trust me when I say, the email will wait and no matter how wonderful your friends are, they don’t update enough to check every two minutes. And really do you need to know that Janet is going to take a nap or Fred is on his second cup of joe? Setting a time will help you be more accountable. It is easy for writers to move that writing time around each day and if you are a disciplined person, which I am not, that may work well. For those who struggle with time management, put it on your calendar and set a date with your manuscript. Your characters deserve to have their story told and they need the time with you to do it.
Lastly, what has worked well with my critique group is to hold each other accountable. Set a word count goal or a page goal and don’t get up until you have fulfilled it. Those are the days I feel best because I know I am one more step closer to my dream. Write to that goal even if what you write isn’t what you had in mind before you plunked yourself down. You might be surprised at what you get, of course you could end up cutting a large chunk, but buried in there might be a ruby of an idea.
Now stop procrastinating and go forth and write.