For those who don’t follow me on twitter, I recently tweeted about my struggles with procrastination. If you want to read it to have context for what this blog post is about, click here: https://twitter.com/WilmarLuna/status/1243238068909375492?s=20
The common misconception about procrastination is that it is often associated with laziness. Although laziness is real, it’s usually related to things like washing dishes, doing laundry, and making the bed. For writer’s procrastination is a little different.
Procrastination, when experienced by writers, is the manifestation of fear.
This week, while trapped indoors due to Covid-19 mayhem, I told myself that I would write. I didn’t boot up any video games, closed my web browser, and left my manuscript open so that I could focus on writing.
Instead, I ended up sitting in my chair and managed to only stare at my screen. Every great idea I had was accompanied by a counter-argument, a million reasons why the idea was stupid and why I shouldn’t waste time writing it.
I then bowed my head, closed my eyes, and really tried my hardest to brainstorm what scene I wanted to write. When no ideas came, I opened my web browser and fell into the pit of procrastination. The most I was able to accomplish was one sentence. “Now what,” she said aloud.
It wasn’t until I watched the video from Film Courage (during procrastination) that I realized what was happening. I was afraid to write.
The source of this procrastination fear can be first identified during the beta read of A Bitter Winter. Prior to the book that was published in 2018, I had written a draft that was 100,000 words full of artistic genius. I believed I had created my finest work of art yet.
Then I gave it to my editor and beta readers and found out that I had written the opposite. My story was a boring trash fire.
Could you imagine spending 12 months of your life on a project that was a dud? It took me three years to rewrite that awful draft into a novel that I wasn’t ashamed to have in my library. A Bitter Winter was a great reboot to my series, but it took too long to write. And this was written without procrastinating.
I did not want to go through a massive rewrite ever again. So rather than write a scene in full, I procrastinate.
I assumed I had made it through the beta experience unscathed. Rather than be scarred by the experience, I had simply learned valuable lessons in writing a novel. Unfortunately, I was wrong.
Deep down, the beta had been a traumatic experience. Not because of what was said but because of what I had believed.I had convinced myself that I had written a great novel and I was completely wrong.
So now, as I near the end of writing Narco Hotel, I find myself stuck in a perpetual loop of doubt and procrastination. I second guess every creative decision and wonder if the scenes I wrote are actually good or I simply have no concept of what makes a good scene. Will submitting this draft to my editor lead to another massive rewrite from start to finish?
Rewriting a couple of scenes is acceptable and expected. Rewriting an entire novel? Okay, maybe one time. But twice? Three times? If every book I wrote needed a rewrite from scratch, would that mean that my creative instincts are completely out of tune?
If I were a rich man that didn’t need income, it wouldn’t matter if I delayed a book. It wouldn’t matter if a book I had written bombed. I could learn from my mistakes and try again at a later date.
I am not rich. Every obstacle that delays the release of my next book is a loss of revenue. A loss I literally cannot afford.
Luckily, there are some things that can be done to combat procrastination. Some of those suggestions were mentioned in the Youtube video above.
- Accept the fear and imagine what would happen if I didn’t write.
- Work on other writing projects like this blog or my newsletter to get the writing energy going.
- Attempt to break my day-to-day routine by going for a walk to get myself out of the funk.
- If the problem persists on future projects, I have one last method to try.
Copywork is a method where a writer will take out a pen and pencil and literally copy the words out of a successful novel.
So if I wanted to write a horror book, I could copy The Shining or The Troop. If I want to write a sci-fi fantasy similar to Star Wars, I could copy Heir to the Empire.
The whole work doesn’t need to be copied, it just needs to be enough to understand why the writer chose their words and formed their sentences.
Personally, I’m not too eager on testing out this method because I’m left-handed and writing by hand could be painful at times. Also, a tiny bit of procrastination in that I’m afraid I won’t get results. However, if suffering a little wrist pain leads to productive writing sessions, why not beat up the hand a little?
Right now as I finish typing this blog, I’m going to take another whack at the manuscript and keep chiseling away at it. And yes, I am going to shamelessly plug my newsletter because subscribers have been reading a chapter from my new book delivered to their inbox.
So if you want to get in on the action, sign up with the link below.
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