Procrastination & Plot Lines
I mentioned in my last (the first) post that when I started writing this novel, I sat down and 5 1/2 chapters spilled out of me. Well, now that I’m picking up the story 3 years later, it seems I have some thinking to do. It’s clear I have the beginning down. The end is fairly certain … in my head. I am not so certain about any of the middle stuff and how it all comes together. This is an easy place to insert procrastination!
I figured I’d just let it flow and unfold for me.
In my infinite wisdom, I decided that I would follow the creative flow and let the story unfold. I figured I had enough of an idea about the plot that “the details” didn’t matter. You can see how successful that tactic was … I hadn’t touched the story for 3 years! Apparently the details do matter. Allow me to illustrate what I’m talking about …
What I knew:
- I knew the basic premise of the story.
- I had an idea that there would be 3 key characters.
- I knew a little bit about my first character and she continued to flesh out as I wrote.
- I had the ending outlined in my head.
Most of what I knew was either refined or vaporized through my conversation with Parrish. While my enthusiasm for the project was renewed with a little more direction, I was somewhat stuck again. OH GAWD!!! So, I did what any natural procrastinator would do … I decided “I’d think about it.” I allowed the ideas to come and go through my brain: scenes, people, plot lines. Actually, I had so many thoughts in my head that I even dreamed parts of the story while I slept.
I allowed this thinking/procrastinating go on for at least 2 days (that felt like 2 months). I still didn’t know where to take the project back up. I left my character (Gretta) on a park bench on her lunch break, but not eating yet. A colleague has just walked up and the conversation is beginning. I left her there two weeks ago! She must be STARVING by now!
Then one miraculous day …
By Thursday morning I’d had enough. Even though I didn’t know what was going to happen, I was going to write … dammit! My “writing week” was coming to an end and this project was still at loose ends. UGH! Fortunately my phone started ringing as soon as I woke up and the interruptions from the office continued until 1pm. I welcomed the intrusions; they bought me time. In fact, they bought me so much time that I wound up running late to pack up and head to my parent’s for a visit on my way home.
I jumped in the shower for a quick freshen up before leaving. And everything changed! As the water washed over the top of my head, the next key character washed over me as well. In what felt like seconds, I knew almost everything about her: name, age, marital status, what’s happening in her life, how she feels about it, what she desires, what’s she’s good at, and things she can’t get right. I even knew what kind of clothes she wears. If I had any talent with a sketchpad I could have drawn a picture of her for you.
I quickly finished my shower and ran for a pen. Notes spilled onto the pages just like the water washed over me moments ago. I remembered it all and wrote until it ended. I pushed the chair back, smiled and said “Hello Stacy. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Then I finished packing, locked the cottage and headed south.
An Outline is Helpful After All!
By Saturday, the third key character arrived, but not with as much detail. I now have loads of notes on who these people are, and their common threads. I have notes about reasonably logical ways they can come together. So, while I haven’t written any actual story line in the past week, now I have a story! It’s no longer “just a concept” running around in my brain. Now, at least, I have a path for my characters to walk along. We won’t be getting lost in the forest of my mind. The plan is still loose enough that my characters can show me the way, but not so loose that we lose the theme.
One other thing I discovered this week …
In addition to a plot line, this weekend I discovered that I will create diversions from my avoidance tactics! What did it look like? I “accidently” pulled my yarn stash out of the closet so I could shred some papers. I noticed that I probably had enough yarn to make a cozy writing wrap. Gotta be comfortable while I write after all … no? Then I had to go to the store to pick up the right sized crochet hook, then …
I already had a writing avoidance tactic in play. I’m making a crochet bedspread and hope to have it finished before the warm weather shows up! I couldn’t even let myself just do that this weekend. This is some complex procrastination I’ve got going on!
Oh the life of a creative person!
P.S. Double Procrastination Win! As I wrote this post … which was probably another delay tactic for actually writing … I finally saw how to get Gretta fed and off that park bench! Onward!