Question of the day: how will I avoid procrastinating?

I’m collecting inspiration! Here are a few recommended anti-procrastination techniques:

  • 30 min. unbreakable appointments (hourglass optional)–from Claudia Mills
  • Butt-in-Chair–Jane Yolen, Take Joy
  • BIC HOK TAM–Book-in-a-Week (Butt in chair, hands on keyboard, typing away madly;
  • Permission to write a *$!#$! first draft (even if it’s a first draft of a rewritten scene)–Anne Lamott, Bird By Bird
  • Short assignments–Heather Sellers, Page After Page
  • Don’t fear finishing–Eric Maisel, Fearless Creating
  • Remove to a coffee shop or library with naught but the WIP–Cheryl (moi). Sometimes escaping distractions is the best solution.

Now, I need to crochet another few rows with my pretty new yarn….NOT!

:) Cheryl

Confessions of a Distracted Writer

I’m in the midst of rewriting my MG fantasy, Juggling the Keystone. Everything’s set for me to crank out pages: I brainstormed scenes with a friend last week and hashed out the last few plot glitches. I have my days free with both kids at camp. I have no other major projects I have to work on right now. The house is even passably clean!

So…what did I do today? Here’s a partial list:

  • Ran a half dozen errands. This included a suddenly urgent need to spend an hour in B&N choosing just the right crochet book from the dozens available.
  • Started a new crochet project. (It’s a bag to carry my little Moleskine writing notebook, so it counts as writing time. Right?)
  • Polished up a few craft articles.
  • Listed a dozen craft ideas that I should really test, write up, and submit. Right away.
  • Researched a dozen craft markets, since my standards probably don’t want me to send them a dozen crafts simultaneously.
  • Packed up that pair of boots with the broken zipper that’s been sitting under my desk for 6 months, waiting to be returned to the manufacturer.

I also spent an hour and a half actually working on the rewrite. And it was hard! What’s with that? I have all these beautiful ideas in my head; I think I’m subconsciously expecting them to materialize on the page, perfect as snowflakes.

I will say, I didn’t recognize my blatant procession of procrastination techniques until I finally sat down at my computer to work. I’ll be better prepared tomorrow!

Meanwhile, I’ll try to remember that I DON’T need to get the perfect words on the page on the first try–even during the “final” rewrite. I just have to get the words down. Later, I can add the polish.

:-) Cheryl

Great Verbs

Rewriting my own work makes me acutely aware of strong verbs in others’ writing. I especially love when authors coax words into unexpected meanings. Here are a few of my favorite verbs for the week:

  • bracelet: “A thin red line bracelets her wrist.”
  • crosshatch: “Docks and moorings crosshatch the water nearest shore.”
  • jewel: “Stars jewel the sky.”
  • bleed: “Sunset bled across the lake.”
  • spiderwebbed: “Silver spiderwebbed the orb’s surface.”

I like Lewis Carroll’s thoughts about language, as expressed in Through the Looking Glass: ‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,’ it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.’

Today, I will practice coaxing my own words into order :)


Rewriting: the Big Picture

How do you get the big picture when it’s time to rewrite–and restructure–your book? I’m a visual thinker, so for me, the trick is to find a way to represent my story visually. I’ve tried many different methods for tracking different parts of my story: stickers, highlighters, different colors of sticky notes, webbing, outlines, flow charts. Some are more fun than others (especially if, like me, you have an addiction to beautifully-colored pens and highlighters) but in the end, I find that simpler is usually better.

One problem I’m fixing in the rewrite of Juggling the Keystone: my characters need more problems. To help me track my progress, I needed a way to track story problems from one chapter to the next. The solution? A table in MS Word. Column 1 lists each chapter title. Column 2 lists problems introduced, continuing, or resolved in the chapter. For ex., here’s the (cryptic) problem list for Ch. 6 :
  • Money, etc. / KS / Guards / Paranoid king / Chirp wants out / wizard—mntns? / Stuffed animals / father / trapped / Khess captured / Khess hurt / Khess lied

Color coding helps me to see which problems are new or continuing (red), which are temporarily resolved (light green), and which are permanently solved (dark green).

It was fun to see the whole table, with more and more red blooming as the story progresses. Geeky, yes–but it helped!

:) Cheryl