Michaeline: When Procrastination is About Rebellion

The Girls vs. The Inner Censor (An epic battle across time and space.) via Wikimedia Commons

The Girls vs. The Inner Censor (An epic battle across time and space.) via Wikimedia Commons

One of the big benefits of visiting blogs is that you can think about writing problems in terms of someone else – and then you realize the same solutions apply to your writing problems. Somewhere I commented that I have a real problem with authority telling me what to do (the context was GPS navigation systems) when I realized that maybe this was at the root of my procrastination problems, too. My Girls are in rebellion against the Inner Censor.

I have to say, they are not completely unreasonable, my Girls. When I suggested that maybe there should be an inciting incident in the first few pages, they took to that well. Conflict was a harder sell, but they try. But the act structure and escalating nature of story? They’ve dug in their heels and refused to work with me and the Inner Censor on that. And the more the Inner Censor insists that this is the way things are done, they more they stick their fingers in their ears and go watch improv skits on YouTube.

This is heartbreaking. I *know* that the act structure works – I’ve seen very successful stories that use it well, and I’ve dragged through miserable stories (or stories that could have soared) that lacked a proper structure.

But I also know that in order to get better, I have to write. So, I’ve decided to give into the Girls, and just write. I wince when a Grand Wizard from Paris, France is introduced into the story by my protagonist’s granny. I cringe when scene after scene goes by without getting back to one of the main plots.

However, by loosening the reins, I’m writing again. And this isn’t NaNo writing – rushing straight ahead in a mad race to log in 2000 words each day. This is a more thoughtful writing where I pay more attention to saying things the way I want them to end up. I’m making slow progress, but at least I’m making some progress toward becoming a better writer at the paragraph level.

There are some other tricks I’m using to get back into the habit of daily writing, and I’ll share those as the month progresses. But the first thing to do about a procrastination problem is to figure out how to sit down and write. My Girls say, “Make it fun!” And by listening to them, I am writing again.

12 thoughts on “Michaeline: When Procrastination is About Rebellion

  1. I think letting your Girls loose is a great idea. Let them have their creative play. Plenty of time for the Inner Censor to try to persuade them to tidy up their work when they’ve finished creating something they like, no matter how ramshackle. And if it turns out to be a fun read, maybe you shouldn’t worry too much about structure. There are some fantastic bits of Terry Pratchett, especially in his early books, which would never have seen the light of day if he’d gone for a tight structure. His books fill me with joy, and at least half the fun is in the asides and foot-notes.

    • I’m with you, Jilly! Sometimes the Girls just need to be let outside to play! Who knows what the hell they’ll end up doing, but it’s likely whatever it is will be fun.

      • I think if I had two hours a day to write, I could do both — have some creative play, and have some serious editing. Lord knows, I’ve got enough wordage to do both.

        But I don’t have two hours, so I’ve got to work with what I’ve got. (-: Going for the play in September!

  2. Go with what feels good, Michaeline! I’m thinking of my conviction that I had to get rid of Helga, but how I can use her in the next book. Weeks or months from now, when you’re revising, if there’s ultimately no place for the Grand Wizard from Paris in the current book, just give him his own book. You can be fluid. Just because he shows up right now, doesn’t mean he got to the right party. Maybe his party is really next week. But write him down, while he’s here. Good luck! Have fun!

    • That’s how I figured out what my next (hmm…four?) books will be. I’ve already got the one for Susannah’s sister planned, then there’s Nate’s friend Guy (I’ve already started his), plus Nate’s triplet sisters, who I had a lot of fun writing in the current WIP. They’ll each get their own book at some point.

  3. It can be very frustrating when characters seem to take over a story or be very stubborn with what seems like the natural progression of events. I’m learning to remind myself that I can always fix something later if I don’t like it and just continue on writing. The writer Richard Rhodes said that editing and writing at once can be too much for the mind, as they’re such different activities. I feel that as writers we tend to go straight into edit mode without even realizing it. Looking forward to your tricks on getting into daily writing habits 🙂

    • That’s an excellent point to keep in mind, and I’m noticing that more and more as I edit. It IS really different from writing. I think you have to have one part of your brain engaged to write and a completely different part to edit. Ha, and yet another part to copy edit/critique!

    • I definitely go straight to edit mode – I think it’s the result of so many years spent at a desk job. I need tricks to keep the Inner Editor quiet. I’ll be thrilled when the Grand Wizard or his equivalent elbows his way into my WIP 🙂

    • Hello, creativewriter, and welcome to the blog! I hope you’ll be commenting often!

      I think part of the problem is that I’m ready to get this story finished so I can move onto other things. I’ve been living with it for several years, and have hammered out some turning points, and I know the characters fairly well. So, the Inner Censor is trying to keep everyone on track (basically, editing), but the Girls still want to have some fun with different ways of telling this story.

      I’m deeply conflicted. I started this as a NaNo back in 2010, and decided to go with a standard fantasy template and use this as a practice piece, anyway. I’m almost tempted to keep with the “practice piece” idea, and just start publishing it on a blog as a weekly serial. It’s my understanding that no one will buy it as a book if I do that (however — they do books out of recipe blogs. Is it so different??). That way, I would be doing mini-stories, I’d have a deadline, and with any kind of luck, I’d have encouragement from people who follow my blog . . . .

      At any rate, I’ve decided that the biggest thing I need to do is keep learning. Can’t do that if I’m blocked on the piece. I’m glad to hear you are in writing mode!

      Next week will be about some psychological tricks to set up a daily habit that have worked for me. Still in Beta Mode (-:.

      • Hi Michaeline! Yes, it’s a great blog here with great perspectives 🙂 I see how you’re conflicted but think that’s an awesome idea you have there. I do NaNo as well 🙂 Looking forward to more posts 😀

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