Saturday, March 31, 2007

Interferons and Other Anti-Writing Woes, parte une

As Kelly recently noted, there are a 1001 and one ways to write, all of them equally correct if they get you to the desired result.

There are also 1001 ways to not write. Some are valid, some are not, and some occupy that vague, shadowy land of improbable but occasionally accurate excuses.

Right now, for instance, I have a headache. It's one of those that comes from eye strain--low light, staring at the computer/TV for too long, reading a 400 page book in one go and realizing that blinking slows you down, and so on. The real difficulty is that as soon as I start to think about plot, title, character, or anything else that's useful toward the writing process, the headache starts producing thought police, who are like little anti-virals running about inside your head, grabbing hold of stray Seretonin revelers and collaring them up in the hoosegow. The end result of which is that the thought comes to a dead end and the headache cuts right through the middle of your thought:

"Okay, so when she orders that coffee, I need to have her say something about the shark jaw on the wall, because that will foreshadow OW OW OW! Ah, screw this, I'm going to meander the internets."

There are plenty of reasons that we don't write. In fact, I don't know anybody, save perhaps one person, who actually writes as often as they'd like. And often our reasons are justified. But, I submit, there are plenty of times when our reasons are not justified, and we allow ourselves to buy into the idea of the excuse rather than do work--which this is, though it be the most joyful plow that e'er I've laid my hand upon.

What are the excuses that you use not to write? What real world interferences too often keep you from your planned writing time? And what solutions to those problems can others suggest? What motivators do you use to keep yourself working?


lydamorehouse said...

Uh, let's see, excuses not to write... just about anything.

Anonymous said...

Come on, Lyda, give us a few... Baking? Mason? The neverending search for more four-leaf clovers? (Oh wait, that last one is my super power... and no stealing it, you!)

lydamorehouse said...

Ah, well, when I actually LIKE what I'm writing (and am not on deadline), the thing most likily to interfere with my getting writing done is TV.

It's the same reason I can't role-play and write. My brain would much rather let someone else plot while I identify with (TV) or be (RPG) the player-character.

Right now? Anything. Anything but this damned book. :-)

Naomi said...

1. My kids are bugging me.

2. My kids aren't bugging me right at this moment, but since they're home and awake and have no father to distract them, they will no doubt be bugging me soon and that knowledge will prevent me from focusing.

3. My husband is putting the kids to bed. They are making lots of distracting noise.

4. My kids are in bed, sleeping peacefully, but now I'm tiiiiiiiiired and it's hard to concentrate and maybe I'll just read blogs instead.

Those are the top 4, but there's also:

5. I have a headache / my wrists hurt / my back hurts / my knee hurts and sitting aggravates it / my hip hurts and sitting aggravates it.

6. I need to go start dinner / load the dishwasher / clean the bathroom / vacuum / shovel snow.

7. It's a Saturday, which is prime writing time, but it's also the only day this week where I'll have a block of child-free time to go shopping, and there is something I genuinely and urgently need.

8. I really want to spend some quality time with my spouse.

9. It's a beautiful day and I want to go for a walk.

10. I'll start in just a minute. Just as soon as I've downloaded e-mail / checked my friends page / made a blog post / responded to this blog post.

It's a wonder I ever write at all.

Erik Buchanan said...

Exhaustion, kid, TV, all the usual.

The solution? Scheduling.

Now we all know, I'm sure, that we should schedule a block of time every day for writing, and that we should do nothing other than write in that time. And of course, none of us ever break that rule.

Not me. Noooo. Never. Uh-uh. Never. Really. No, really.

But a tip most people don't know is to schedule your free time as well. This way, you know when you're going to have to goof off, you can do it without guilt ,and you are less likely to goof off when you should be working.

It may seem rigid, but it actually gives you more freedom, because when you have scheduled your time off, you don't spend it thinking "I really should be doing something else."

Kelly Swails said...

Good advice, Eric. There's some days where I'm just "I'm sooo not writing tonight. I'm watching "Heroes" and eating ice cream and that's it." My biggest procrastination method is reading, by far, because I can justify it so easily in my head. "I gotta read to be a better writer." Also, I just plain love to read, and anytime I can lose myself in a story or Entertainment Weekly I like it. Second is internet time, which I usually do just before I settle down to write. My third method is TV, especially "How I Met Your Mother," the afore-mentioned "Heroes," and "Lost." Fourth comes exercising, fifth is housework.

Jeez. How the heck do I get anything written?