Frustration and procrastination

There’s this sort of inside nagger I now have to deal with every day. Nagging at me to get on with writing. Telling me off when I don’t and causing me to feel frustrated when too much time passes between writing sessions.

Frustration berates me for having to go to work, making me want to stay at home and write. It is like a physical presence too. A kind of irritation at the back of the neck and down the spine, and an added tension in the already scrunched shoulders. When I am at work I just want to get home and start writing. I can’t wait.  I order a meal at work for lunchtime so that I won’t have to spend time cooking later.

When later comes I am tired from the day and the commute. My desperation to write has calmed into a less certain, but still willing, state of mind. I change into even more comfortable clothes than the comfortable clothes I wear for work, have a quick snack and then it happens. The tv beckons, or some reading, or a chat on the phone, a game on the ipad – procrastination has leapt in and pushed frustration out of the way.

Justification joins in and brings acceptable reasons; I need some time out, I will write better if I am refreshed – I don’t want to have to delete another chunk (that section I wrote about before did not survive rereading).

The first few days of writing Invisus procrastination didn’t have any power and the lack of frustration meant the nagger was just an infant. It seems to get harder to get started as time goes on and yet the nagger, fed by frustration, has now grown into an almost constant presence. Why does procrastination get the upper hand so easily? Once I get started I enjoy adding new words, playing with the phrases, developing ideas. I am immersed in the world of Invisus and am happy there. And when I have exhausted my creative self, and the nagger has been pacified, I feel fulfilled, as though I have achieved something.

Days off work present a different challenge. I may have a whole day available to write, or procrastinate. There are so many more procrastination options too. I suppose there is an upside in that many of the small chores, or those which I really have been avoiding, get done. This does not mean that frustration is sleeping. Oh no, it is goading the nagger. Any evasive activity is accompanied by constant mental argument about the merit of the task in hand versus the need to satisfy the nagger.

The work / life balance is often reported as being very important for our wellbeing. What about the work / life / write balance? Perhaps I should love frustration and the nagger as without them maybe the writing would slip off the balance scales in favour of work demands and essential life activity. Juggling two balls is easier than three and, unless I can survive without the day job, I can’t drop either of the other two.

I suppose this blog could be seen as procrastination! But without it as a platform to explore the difficult yet amazing experience of writing this book a less productive procrastination task could step in. See? – that was easy to justify. Anyway, I will be writing some more of Invisus later, as soon as I have……….

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Signs and omens

When I very first sat down to start ‘Invisus’ it was a moment of adrenaline and emotion as my cherished first sentence expanded into 500 words which I was pretty pleased with. I felt I was meant to be writing.

Encouraged by having produced something I liked, I sat down the next day to reread and continue. I was looking forward, with a slightly fearful anticipation, to reading the phrases I felt had validated taking that first breath-holding dive into the land of my creative consciousness. I opened up the file, and there it wasn’t. The file was there but the words were not.

My insecurities flooded back and I was angry, at the computer, at myself, at the world. How dare anyone or anything snatch away my creation? Then the thoughts; is it a sign? an omen? am I not meant to write it? I needed to decide how I was going to deal with this and I needed to decide fast. I knew if I let those thoughts win I would drop the project. Oh yes it would sit there as something I would do one day but it wouldn’t happen in the now.

So what to make of this ‘sign’ or ‘omen’? Some of the thinking behind the plot is quite dark. Perhaps I was not ‘meant’ to write it and the cruelty of losing that first precious attempt was to ensure that I was stopped. Or was it that I had started so many projects in the past that my determination was being tested?

Like fortune telling, coincidence and odd events, perhaps it is our own interpretation that is the most important. Strange things do happen which can be seen as signs or omens needing to be noticed. Sometimes it seems that what happens must be a sign for a path needing to be followed. Or is it that in wanting to follow that path, perhaps subconsciously if not consciously, the sign seems to point in that direction?

I still knew my first sentence so I started again, hoping that the best of what I had written was still in there and able to reform. If my determination was being tested then it had passed the test.

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Progress or no progress

I have heard that many authors say they always throw away their first chapter and previously I would have agreed with them. In fact I started a novel ages ago and the first chapter was just awful. Actually the whole thing was awful. It had seemed like a great idea in my head but trying to get it out and on paper it just fell apart. I have had similar experiences when trying to draw or paint something. Inside me I can see this amazing picture and then on paper it turns into an embarrassment.

That earlier novel did not get completely abandoned, however. It eventually emerged as a short play script and finally a short film script. The original book attempt lies buried in shame in a drawer. I am unable to actually throw away anything I have written.

With ‘Invisus’ it has been a different experience so far. The main factor in this is that the ideas for the book had been wriggling around my conscious and subconscious mind for a while, and then a first sentence came into my head. And I liked it. I really liked it. This meant that the rest of the first chapter had to be good enough not to get binned and I hope I have achieved that.

However, the last time I sat down to write I felt I was struggling. The words did not seem to flow. Sometimes I write a sentence and feel quite smug that it came from me. But this time I wasn’t so sure. I was interrupted by a phone call (strangely just as I had typed the word ‘phone’) and I decided this was an indication to stop. I had only managed a few hundred words and it remains to be seen whether they stay or go. I will need to reread them next time but I am not confident. I may just leave them in for now and look at them again later. I am too prone to allowing myself to get entangled in over thinking so it is probably best to move on and worry about it later.

So I don’t know whether that was progress or no progress but the main thing is that I spent time writing and without doing that there won’t be a book.

BTW I found the quote I mentioned in the first blog and discovered it was only half a quote:

‘Everyone has a book in them.. and in most cases that is where it should stay.’
Christopher Hitchens

I hope I am not one of the ‘most cases’

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Encouragement

A while ago I came across some writing tips from Ernest Hemmingway. Of course I didn’t save the link and am kicking myself now. I think I remember that he said to reread what you have written when you sit down to write again, which I do, and to stop before you run out of story. Also not to fret about the story when not writing but to let it bubble away underneath (not his words!)
I labelled this post encouragement rather than inspiration as that is what I felt I got from his philosophy.
I did manage to find more quotes from him which I do also like

http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/1455.Ernest_Hemingway

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Blog is go

My first blog post, I shouldn’t be at a loss for words as this is writing about writing, but I feel close to that blank mind state that can creep up as I leap to the keyboard to get down the latest bit of inspiration. For me the bath can be a cruel instigator of such occasions.  Lying in warm, fragrant,relaxing water the ideas and phrases flutter round my brain, demanding to be released and immortalised. I leap from the water, relaxation replaced by urgent action and drip all over the keys while banal, unexciting and soon to be deleted phrases replace their inspired predecessors.

 

Creating this site I even got stuck on what the keywords should be. In desperation, with one word left to find, I typed in ‘arrow’. It just popped into my head as I have a kind of philosophy about firing arrows into the ether and one if them may land somewhere where it has an effect.  I bring this to mind when applying for work and also when putting my creative efforts out there.  I don’t know who might find this site by searching for ‘arrow’ but then you never know……

 

So, the book. Ideas for it have been growing for a while now. Previously I have looked into various writing method ideas, story and character planning and so on, but for me the best way seems to be just to sit and write and see what comes out. And sometimes what does come out is a total surprise.

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