Working Through Procrastination

I was still procrastinating by checking on my grades for my last unit of my Masters and reading the comments that had come through from my tutor, Rosie. And she repeated comments from earlier in the term – that I had started too late in the story and it was confusing.

Ok – I thought I’d fixed that but if Rosie said it again, clearly not.

Instead of going into panic, which I have done in the past when confronted by such criticism, I stopped to think about what Rosie was actually telling me. Chances are she was right. She is published after all and has been teaching for some time, she knows what she’s talking about.

And so I immediately opened a new word document and starting drafting a paragraph about the life my character had in the “real world” and her relationship with those around her. I also thought about how I could link the skills she has the “new world” with those she might already have.

The words flowed magically across the page and I produced a couple of rough pages that led me to the current start of my story. These two pages (about 500 words) will expand to around a 5000 word chapter that will set things up and introduce my character better than what I have now.

But I am not going to write that chapter now. Instead I have jumped back to the middle where I was stuck and powered through the rocky road to produce and clear and compelling story (I hope). I did this in a similar way to redrafting my beginning.

I made some dot points comparing what I had and what I needed to happen. I then spent some time rethinking my characters and what they were doing during this time and whether or not it was within character and showed any emotional growth. Then I was ready to redraft the problem chapters.

Although I also need to do this with the beginning, I will come back to that once I have finished this draft.

This process has crystallised for me the importance of having others read my work.  I will need to find myself a good editor/proof reader and consider a second beta reading group for when this draft is completed. But I don’t want to let that search way-lay me again. Focus first, particularly while I have some focus, and then work on the publishing side when it is ready.

Do you have a problem with procrastination? Share how you work around this to get your writing done.

The Procrastination Monster

 

Procrastation Monster

 

The past week (or so) has been one of procrastination and stalling. The Procrastination Monster has raised its ugly head.

I’m nearing the middle of my story and it needs a bit of work. I’m worried that it isn’t really going anywhere and I’m seeing some gaps I hadn’t noticed before. Some focused thinking, a bit of playing, some journaling and even some simple drafting could fix it.

I’m sure it could.

But am I doing that?

No.

I’m reading about plotting, and structure, and fluffy romance novels (not even fantasy). I know I’m stalling but I just can’t seem to help myself. I had a sick child at home for a couple of days – that was some extra time while she convalesced on the couch. But what did I do? Watched Barbie movies with her and longed for her to drift off so that I could watch the end of Game of Thrones series 3 (even though I’ve read the books and knew exactly what was going to happen.)

Now I have wasted a good week and a half.

Why?

Because I’m overwhelmed. It all seems too hard at the moment, too difficult to fix the mistakes and make the story sing.

I have noticed is that a major relationship in the story has shifted and I have not clearly shown how or why that happened. If I don’t fix that a lot of what comes next will not make sense or ring true and the reader will not be as invested in the story.

So what am I going to do about it?

Sit in front of the computer and turn it on would be a great place to start.

Sometimes you need to force yourself to start and then the stress and problems don’t seem so big. I am still writing my daily sentence but with a pencil and my daily planner.

I need to play with some ideas. Play with what should happen between what I’ve got and the next serious action point. Or decide to push straight to it. Look at whether I am filling pages with fluff to get me to the next point. Consider if two chapters could be condensed into one, or the next two or three reworked and repositioned.

To work out where to go I will read what I have and what comes next and then draft out a rough idea (in a paragraph) as to what should go between and then make it happen.

It means pushing myself to start the process. Push the procrastination monster away and start. And hopefully clarity will follow close behind the determination.

Do you know why you procrastinate? How do you work through it?

The Ripples Caused by Editing

By Georgina Makalani

Chapter 8 editing

As I have discussed multiple projects already, it will come as no surprise that I do have several things on the go at once. One of those projects is this website and blog and I’m learning a lot as I go. I am also starting to draft my next novel, very rough and all over the place.

But my first writing priority is my current fantasy novel which is in the editing stage, mostly. Some chapters need more work than I previously thought, and so it is not just editing, but rewriting and reworking some sections.

 

I’m editing for:

Story/Narrative

I am attempting to ensure the story is working (and from some readers some parts need tweaking) making sure that narrative moves the plot along at a reasonable pace and doesn’t get lost along the way. That it is believable and credible and pulls readers in. No strange jumps between events or sudden shifts in character behaviour.

Characters

Characters, as mentioned above, are an important part of the overall narrative. I believe that the best stories are character driven rather than plot driven, yet both aspects interlock and overlap. It is important that characters remain consistent and relatable yet grow emotionally and realistically over the course of the story.

Description

Description is an area I struggle with, always worried that I’m not using enough. There needs to be enough to fully immerse the reader in the setting and story, but not too much to distract from it.

 

Over the last couple of weeks I have:

  • Reworked and rewritten parts of chapters 7 and 8, bringing some events forward in the narrative
  • Introduced earlier foreshadowing of the main event/climax
  • Incorporated better description of the setting and characters to enrich the story
  • Further developed a set of characters to become more engaged in the narrative
  • Read several non-fiction books (or parts of) on description and deep point of view.

 

My aim is to provide a fully engaging reading experience. I love to get lost in books, disappearing into a new world, finding myself somewhere else, with different people, living different lives.

Pure escapism.

I want to provide that experience to my readers. In an attempt to do this I am researching the various techniques for producing engaging writing so that I can develop my own writing.

Funnily enough I do get lost in my own writing. When trying to edit I find myself five pages on and just reading. This may be because I have a connection to the characters and the story; I have lived with them for some time, after all. Whether the words make it to the page or not I can see the story unfolding in my mind. The aim of this edit is to ensure those images running through my head reach the page so that you, the reader, see and feel it too.

The changes I’m making to improve the story are having a ripple effect on the rest of the story. The reworking could kill the current ending, or bring it on too fast. I am hoping that the changes smooth out a wrinkle in the current draft causing a smoother, tighter narrative in the end. Either way, there is still a lot of work to do to bring the story to the level it needs to be. And I’m enjoying the process far more than I thought I would.

What part of the writing process is your favourite?