I woke up this morning and started my day – took Biscuit for a walk, cleaned the cat box, prepared Biscuit’s breakfast then my own. Animals first. Always first. My cat Susie eats at odd times throughout the day, but Biscuit won’t eat unless I’m in the room. If I put his bowl down and go to another room to do something, I turn around, and ‘boom!’ – he’s right there behind me. Back we go to the room where his bowl is. I wait for him to begin eating. He does. The treat in his bowl is usually enough to keep him distracted while I go back to what I was doing. Unless I open the front door, then ‘boom!’ – he’s right there again. His little face asking, ‘Where are we going, Mommy?‘ Needless to say, I don’t open the front door anymore while he’s eating.
This morning I sat down while he ate, a bowl of Special K Oats and Honey cereal for me, and flipped on the boob tube. What I found was Ellen Degeneres speaking directly to me. I love Ellen Degeneres, don’t you? Until this morning, I’d actually never seen one of her stand up comedy routines. Not a bad way to start the day, I say.
About seven minutes into the routine, Ellen talks about procrastination. Ah, procrastination. That nasty habit of keeping us from doing what needs to be done. I’m a procrastinator, are you? I’m the kind of procrastinator who likes things to pile up. Then I make a list of all the things I need to do so I can feel good while I cross them off one at a time. I don’t know why it doesn’t feel as good to cross one thing off my list in one week. Nope. I need five or more to make myself feel like I’ve really accomplished something. Silly, I know. The more I have to do, the better I am at getting things done.
Of course, there’s always something or someone who requires our attention – family, pets, dishes, laundry, bills, politics, errands, other general chores. When the heck am I supposed to write? Even now, I’m blogging instead of working on my novel. Yes, I wrote a novel. Funny thing is, while I was writing it – I was a beast. I woke at 7 every morning, flipped open my laptop and ‘tap, tap, tap’ wrote all morning, broke for lunch, then back to ‘tap, tap, tap’ until dinner. I squeezed in walking and playing with Biscuit. For the most part, he was content curled up in or around my lap while I worked. I kept writing until 11, 12, or whenever-in-the-morning, not stopping until I was satisfied with what I’d written that day. I kept up that routine for several months until it was ‘finished.’ By finished, I mean I felt comfortable enough to let people read it. Talk about scary. Would they think it not as funny as I did? Would they stop and give me some excuse why they didn’t have time to finish it? Procrastinators? Or would they be honest and stop reading it because it was unreadable?
Luckily, none of those bad things happened.
Here I find myself, several months later, still fiddling with the storyline and characters. All you writers out there know the hardest part of writing is the rewrite. By that, I don’t mean editing. I enjoy the editing, whittling, refining part of writing. Adding complexity (oh boy!) is what I’ve been advised to do. As you can imagine, it is . . . well . . . complex.
Like Ellen and the kitten in her routine, I’ve attempted to clear my mind of distractions – mostly reading. Some watching of shows to bleach my mind of the news.
Great ideas strike. I make some notes and apply these super-terrific ideas to the story because, of course, they’re super and terrific . . . and then . . .
What the heck was I thinking? That’s not going to work. When did this become a fantasy novel? No. No. No. Stick to the roots of the story. Nothing wrong with that.
I start over. Back to the drawing board, as they say. It’s a cycle. In my mind, no one else has this trouble because everyone else is following the advice of some ‘how-to’ book.
Not me. I’ve always been the kind of person who picks the less easy path. I like to learn. Even more, I love to teach myself. What a sense of accomplishment when you figure something out on your own. And the lesson sticks with you. In essence, I’ve been reinventing the writing wheel. I’ve had more than one Eureka! moment. Matter of fact, the entire novel is built on epiphanies. I had one almost every morning. Scenes seemed to materialize in my mind overnight. I would pop up in bed and ‘tap, tap, tap’ them out on digital paper.
What the story is missing is a strand of DNA to elevate and bring my mind’s creation to true life. That’s how I picture it anyway.
Polynucleotides is actually what it needs because I’m telling two stories entwined, much like those double helixes.
I don’t claim to be the smartest writer on the block. We all have our own way of doing things and no one writing method works for every writer. Thank goodness for that. If you’re following a formula, and it’s working for you – fantastic! My brain seems to be creating its own methodology which probably only works for me.
So, here I am today, not completely starting over because I had some super-terrific ideas this week while trying to weave new strands of molecules into my novel. I’m not too worried yet because I know myself and how my mind works. Once the beast is unleashed, she won’t stop until it’s ‘finished.’
Now, if I could just stop procrastinating.
I don’t know where you are in your day, but we can always use a good laugh (especially now). Here is Ellen Degeneres’ Stand up comedy routine from 2003, performed in New York City for HBO. Apologies to those who can’t access the video. Take an hour out of your day and enjoy some nice, clean laughs.
‘If you leave here tonight, and you don’t remember anything else that I said – leave here and remember this: Procrastinate now. Don’t put it off.’
Procrastination. Here and Now. Now or Later. When I went in search of a catchy visual for this blog post, the chewy Now or Later candies popped into my head. Imagine my surprise when I learned they are actually called Now and Later’s. Eh. I prefer milk duds . . . now and then.