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A voice from the woods

November 9, 2011

I’m a pantser. Evolution’s gift of introspection has made that very clear the last days/weeks.

In the beginning I have an idea. I work on that idea, brainstorm, write a couple of lines of material. Good. Then the crossroad opens. Start writing? Or plan it out really carefully? I’m a sciency guy. I like to understand what I’m doing and for what reasons.

Nothing wrong with that approach. Except that it doesn’t work and fails to produce anything useful (For me obviously. Not necessarily for others.)

Everything I got done in the past had been pulled into this world kicking and screaming. In school I always finished my homework the night before. Three month’s project? Did some arbitrary reading over the weeks and hammered it into the computer until the printer spat something out I could turn in. 3am in the morning.

That was definitely not healthy.

Kris Rusch wrote “Never let perfect be the enemy of good.” My version goes: “Never let the arbitrary standards in your head get in the way of just f***ing DONE.”

What is easy to understand the night before, is hard for me to understand at day one: Not finished would have gotten me an F. Turning it in on time got a me a B+ (Literally everybody else got an A. Still verrrry happy about the outcome, even today.)

The reason I’m writing this is: I still have to hammer this in emtionally. Doing this goes against every instinct of my body (“But it worked for every problem I ever encountered! Read books, devise plan, do it efficiently, move on. Why shouldn’t it work here? Must be something wrong with the diagram… hmmm…”

On to Nano!


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  1. I have that overthinking and paralysis-by-analysis procrastination tendency, too. I agree that to combat that tendency, telling yourself “just get it done, just good enough, just get it to competent” helps a lot. Takes a LOT of repetition to get me started, so I feel your pain.

    • Thanks man.
      I have learned to use unproductive stretches. My floor is clean, my firefox bookmarks of half a decade are sorted now,…
      Out of experience I will just grab my keyboard one day and start writing again like it was the easiest thing in the world.
      Part of me will ask “Why was that so hard?”. Right now, I want to punch that part of me. :-)

  2. Thomas E permalink

    Good luck, Eric.

    I think writers divide into the “steady writer,” and the “deadline writer”. I don’t think either is wrong. I’m a steady writer, personally… just write every day, hit my quota, and go and do something else that is fun.

    Other people are deadline writers, and they wait until the last minute, and then write like heck.

    Dean Wesley Smith says he is in that category, But if you are a deadline writer, rather than trying to fight it I think the key is to work out ways to build in deadlines that it would be embarrassing to miss.

    In other words, don’t try to fight your nature.

    • I don’t think it’s nature. I don’t think Dean Wesley Smith writes because he needs a motivating deadline. Based on what he says on his blog, I could guess that writing slow would bore him. He writes in a huge burst of creative energy for weeks with very little sleep and then goes and does something else for another few weeks.

      I know I can write on a steady basis. There is just no good reason why I shouldn’t.
      A big part of it is a discipline problem. Like going to the gym or trying to learn a musical instrument. Diligent labor is hard to keep up if there is no validation in the near future.

  3. Thomas E permalink

    Anyway, it’s friday evening here, so my Nano word count is 22,641. I am around 2250 words behind my schedule, so I’ll catch up hopefully over the weekend.

  4. Nothing substantial yet. Brain still on short stories, but I think I have one.

    I sure must like deadline writing…sigh. Crunch time!

  5. thomas e permalink

    Another week gone by, I am now at 30,242 words.

  6. thomas e permalink

    Final week, I hope things are going well. I am at 44,609 words ( I finished the novel I was writing, and have started another)

  7. Good job, Thomas! I’m at 193 or 6115, depending on which project I feel I’m on. See you all in a few days for the Nano wrapup!

  8. thomas e permalink

    Good job, hang in there, Sam.

    I’ve finished NanoWriMo, it validated at 50124. Going to continue writing the current novel, and do some short fiction.

  9. Congrats, Thomas! I didn’t make it, but maybe I will next year. On to December and 2012.

    Eric, are you alive?! lol.

    • Very much so. And writing, too. ;-)
      I will bless the internet with a new post of mine, the day after tomorrow.

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