Wednesday: Wanderings


Have you ever started out in one direction or doing one thing and ended up somewhere doing something you never intended? You know, you meant to go to a favorite restaurant or something and ended up someplace else for some reason? Or maybe you started a project with one outcome in mind but something else emerged unexpectedly along the way.

When I built furniture, I did a lot of planning in my head. I wrote down dimension and measurements, to be sure, but the vision of the piece I was building and the construction methods to assemble it often came on the fly. Sometimes it turned out just like I saw it in my head, and other times it didn’t. Sometimes those on-the-fly changes worked in my favor, and sometimes they made a lot of firewood. And I didn’t have a fireplace.

When I write, I’ve found it beneficial not to do this. I have a scene or an exchange in my head. Sometimes it’s an idea for a novel, but more often than not, that grows out of a single vision, a single snippet of thought or vision in my mind which blossoms into more. That’s not enough to write an entire novel around, and sometimes it’s not enough to write a short piece around either, and so I end up spending a lot of time letting the idea percolate. If it blooms into something more, I’ve got something more, but a lot of times, I have a disjointed set of scenes and characters which don’t add up to much of anything.

The urge to write something substantial is banging on my head right now. As I’ve noted before here, nothing stimulates my creativity like having something more important to do than indulge it. When I didn’t have a Slurp to occupy my time, I was as idea-dry as the Sahara is water-dry. And the ideas I’d written down when they came to me didn’t motivate me enough to write. But now, I feel the thumping in my head which wants me to sit down, finish the tiny bits of structural planning I have to do, and write them. At least ONE of them. And yet, I have to write the non-fic. And I’ve been missing motivation there too.

So I have a daunting project and little motivation to do it. But until I get it done I can’t really embark on a big personal (read: non-paying) project either. So I’m in a creative Catch-22 and can’t do anything to budge myself either way. Oh, it’s not a permanent condition by any stretch, but it’s an annoying one. Aggravating. And I can’t figure out where my “want-to” has gone.

How often do you have to tap your self-discipline to force yourself to do something you’ve planned to do but haven’t “gotten around to”? Does procrastination overtake you or do you just slip into inertia? Or maybe you’re a dynamo, with more energy than the Energizer Bunny on meth. If so, what sorts of things do you do to focus that energy and … aw, forget it. If that’s you, we can’t relate to each other.

Sound off, fellow back-sliders! Let me know how you deal with it and what doesn’t work, too.

-JDT-

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6 thoughts on “Wednesday: Wanderings

  1. As a married, working mother of two elementary school children I chose to go back to school and get my master’s degree a couple of years ago. Believe me, there were LOTS of times when I didn’t want to do whatever it was I had to get done.

    The strategy that seemed to work best most of the time for me: try and break things down into smaller pieces, then bribe myself with something I really wanted to do. For example: just write the first two pages of this paper, then you can stop for the night and go watch “Criminal Minds”.

    Also, chocolate covered espresso beans.

    OH HOHO! That’s clever! I might be able to do that! Thank you for that little ditty! It’s a good ‘un!

  2. Remember that banjo Ken bought me? I think I’ve picked it up and played it maybe 4 times since it’s been in the house. Granted I’ve been under the weather (still not back to 100% energy) but truly, if I had all my energy would I have mastered it by now? Be practicing every day? I think not.

    The great thing about hobbies is, you can always pick up a new one. 🙂 Writing is supposed to be my way of life, though, and how I hope to make my living someday. I have to be a liiiiiittle more serious, I guess. 🙂

  3. I can’t answer this question anymore. Being around friends who write and understand what I’m going through, others having expectations of me, telling people I’m going to do something so I have to do it…

    I try a hodgepodge of things and these change as my life and circumstances change.

    Let me know when you figure it out.

    Don’t hold your breath. Why do you think I’m asking you guys?

  4. I’ve gotten really bad about procrastinating lately, as you can see by how long it took me to comment on this here post. 😉 I don’t want to do anything. But I think I’ve figured out, it’s only the same old stuff I don’t want to do; I’ve been craving new adventures. But you know how it is when you have no money and only one vehicle and obligations, and so you end up doing the same old thing because it has to be done, and your dreams of new and exciting will just have to wait…

    Yep, that’s pretty much how I’ve lived the last 8 years of my life. Maybe more. Can’t really remember spontaneity anymore.

  5. I often wonder this about writers. In school, they spent so much time in English class making us look for the “plan” in the writing, so to speak. Look for the references, and the tie ins, find the structure, which leads one to think that there is a “plan” when a writer sits down to write their masterpiece for the world to dissect in a nit-picky manner. I assume this could not be the case for some writers, but through schooling, it looks as though writers are just brilliant at keeping track in their minds, or they plot it out in some fashion.

    Many writers do what’s known as “pants-seat” writing. They sit down with the vague idea of a story in mind and start the writing process. Typically, they will go through many drafts to get the story right. When I say structure, I don’t mean an outline. I mean the three-act (or in my case the four-part) story structure. There are specific milestones which must be in every story to be successful, and if I put those milestones in place and know what they will be, then the rest of the story (theoretically) flows. There’s no outlining, which I’ve found doesn’t work for me, but with the structure roughly in place, I can write freely with only the barest guides and get the story right the first time. Then I’m looking at revision, not rewriting. 🙂

    For me, when it comes to getting things done, I need a list. Honestly, I LIVE for lists. There is something so wonderful and secret-smile-worthy about writing out a list of all the things that need to get done, and then checking/scratching off each item and seeing how close you are to being finished. It makes me happy, and gives me a visual of “okay, this, this, this, and this need to get done, and I’m half way there!” which then tells me “excellent – I have oodles of time left!” or “shit – I’m an idiot, I need to get crackin’!”

    My friend Bryce has a piece of software you’ll LOVE. It’s called “List of Six” and it’s all about keeping manageable, bite-sized lists at your fingertips. Check it out. 🙂

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