Here I am in front of my computer typing away at a blog only a few people have seen and I doubt anyone is really reading. (But that’s okay, this blog is for myself really, a way to get me to write more often.) But my eyes keep drifting to the Television and my fingers ever poised over the keyboard stay silent. So I stop to watch the show I put on for background noise. Soon I’ll turn it off in an attempt to keep writing. I’ll put some music on instead. I turn on my go to playlist on Pandora, 90’s Alternative Rock. And for a time I will write but as it is enviable I will start to sing along and before I know it I’ll have my web browser open and 90’s alternative rock song lyrics so I can sing along and my blog or story or poem forgotten, for a time. Some times for a long time several hours would have gone by and before I know it it’s 3am and my eyes are getting heavy with sleep and I didn’t get much work done to show for my time. The worst part is that I don’t always have the time to write. A lot of my time is spent caring for a family member. So on days I have free, and no one is in the house, and there’s peace and quiet and I think how perfect it is for getting some work done. But no, perhaps I’ll get a little done but not nearly as much as I should have.
Why, oh Goddess of Writing, do I do this?! So very often I allow myself to be distracted by the outside world. Be it music, Netflix bingeing, social media, or texting friends when I should be working on my writing. I know I’m not along in this. I have had many writer friends bitch about this, our terrible habit of procrastinating. We have turned it into an Art unto itself it would seem.
Thought I must say that a lot of us, my writer friends that is, have come far in doing much better with it. Myself included though I still fall into the trap Netflix bingeing from time to time. But what can I say; they got some good shit to watch. But I have found that when I’m procrastinating there is usually a reason for it. For me it’s usually because I am uncertain of what direction my story should go in, or I’m not sure how a character should react to what’s going on or how they would put something. Sometimes stepping back from the story and focusing on something else for a while helps to not feel so overwhelmed when I get stuck.
Sometimes procrastinating is a helpful way to keep writing. When I find myself lost on social media instead of writing I’ll ask myself why I’m I on Facebook when there’s nothing good going on and I’ll turn back to my story and read it over and find what the issues are. This step has helped me to grow as a writer. Back in the day I would get an idea for a story and I would just write. No outline, no notes, no nothing. I would usually have it worked out in my head and I would just write it all out as I saw it in my head. Sometimes this was difficult because I didn’t always have a clear idea and I would be forced to figure it out on the fly. A lot of the time I would have to try different scenarios in order to find the right one. This was how I worked, and it didn’t always work out. Like the times that I wouldn’t have the time to get back to a story right away and I would forget some of my ideas or how things were connected and flowed.
Back in 2015 for the first time I started an outline and I found it somewhat helpful. But I needed something more in-depth than just an outline. I needed a better way to map out my story. I hit Google hard and searched and found a few blogs with some ideas that sounded interesting to me. The one idea I found that I still use is, The Plot Board. I found this on http://www.whatisaplot.com/how-to-make-a-plot-board/
I saved it to Pinterest and often look at it for inspiration. There’s a video that shows you how to set it up and the article explains how it works. Pretty much you get one of those science fair boards and map out your story. It’s for writing a novel but I’ve used it for short stories and it works the same.
A damn good friend of mine gave me the idea to use blank cards to write out information about each character. This has helped me to flush out my characters and give them depth, emotion, and better descriptions about their physical appearances. This has also helped to give them backgrounds so I can write a richer character. In a short story there isn’t always space for an in-depth background but knowing it helps determine what course of action my characters will take and how to create a more lifelike dialog. This gives your characters personality. Without this the characters are flat and boring AF. No one wants to read boring AF characters. And no writer wants to write boring AF characters.
Now there are still those times when I can’t get refocused on my work. Facebook wins and I sink into the internet and find myself on the weird side of YouTube and think WTF happened, how the fuck did I get here?! When that happens I know that writing just isn’t going to happen. Maybe it’s just not the right time for it or maybe I’m just too easily distracted by shiny things, and videos about cute kitties.
Even now I’m procrastinating, instead of finishing this post I posted in Elitist Swine Facebook group about how I’m writing a new blog post about procrastination and how I can use it to refocus on my writing. But there I am procrastinating about procrastination. Yes, I have turned it into a fine Art indeed.