Procrastination… and other things

I have been writing Watching Clouds for twenty years, and I have several other ‘novels’ that I started back in the late eighties and that I’m still writing. It is, therefore, totally no surprise to realise that I’ve neglected blogging on this site for six months. Time appears to have no affect on me.

And yet in my daily work life I’m all about deadlines and time frames, and I’m organisation personified.

Why is it that I can’t be the same in my writing life? I think there are three things.

  • I’m a pantser – I just write from anywhere in the story. I might have an idea where I’m going to end up but I don’t plan to get there. I generally never start at what might be termed ‘the beginning’. I write upon ideas and eventually I have a whole bunch of bits and bobs that need to be knitted together to make a whole. Bit like a peggy-square blanket, really.
  • I write to inspiration. I know we’re supposed to write every day but I don’t. Sometimes I don’t write for a week (longer than that and I do get a bit antsy). All of my writing has to come from somewhere – a full blown idea, a dream, or a tiny speck of something that can grow. I can’t be forced; it’s just horrible gunk that comes out if I am (and it doesn’t get better).
  • I’m easily distracted (unless I’m in full writing mode). This is good for the house and gardens, but not good for Owen who’s been waiting twenty years!

The thing is, when I write it’s usually the weekend and I barely ever go out (once I’m home, I’m home). Plenty of time for writing, right? Nope. Lately, the internet has been my downfall. I’m a writer by hand, but I belong to and always have to log on to chat, edit, review, read. Just recently I signed up to Pinterest – a hugely dangerous site for a procrastinator. The stuff on there is just amazing. I have made boards for two of my characters – so I’m researching if not writing – but also made boards for writing and self-publishing. For a pantser I’m quite addicted to worksheets and lists, though I rather think this is my Capricorn side coming out.

In any case I’m beginning to realise that I can write like a pantser, but I must also start to plan/plot my novels out, ensuring that I have the general elements of a novel actually in play. I like to think I did that a bit with Owen’s epiguide ‘story’ – got to know him (and his brother) a bit better. Before I did that ‘story’ I really was a bit grey on him, even though he’s a first person narrator and we’ve been together twenty years! He suffers a bit from alexithymia – which is the inability to express feelings, show feelings etc.

So, in a roundabout way, I am writing. Just not adding word counts to my novels. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, but I am a bit afraid that another twenty years will go by and Owen will still be waiting for his story to end. Since I’m not writing to make a financial career I have no impetus to finish a story and publish it, and this quite possibly is my biggest downfall. I want to publish, I just feel no push-and-shove to make me do so.

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