Thursday, May 9, 2013

Getting It Done

Just do it!
I suspect blog sites that focus on the writing process will, over time, begin to repeat the same practical writing tidbits. This is fine by me. Some words of wisdom bear repeating more than once, and in my case, the more the better. I guess my head is a bit thick.
One piece of advice on becoming a successful author is: Just do it. Plant your butt in the chair and write. And like magic, a rip-roaring, fully complete novel will appear before your eyes.
I wish. 
I’ve had my butt in the chair for months, and I’m still working on my Amaryllis story. So what’s the problem? Why aren’t I sailing across the finish line? In my two previous posts I shared how I struggled all winter with my current WIP. My big AHA moment last month was to step away for awhile and do something more relaxing. I did this and it helped. With renewed enthusiasm, I got back to work.
The writing moved along well until I hit a time warp. My progress slowed and slowed. I became the tortoise slogging across the hot, sandy desert when I really wanted to be the hare and sprint. I sat for hours, doing it, with little to show for my effort. Then I realized something. All my attention was focused on my characters. I got so caught up in what they were thinking and doing that I overlooked an important personal element—me and my internal editor. Without realizing it, she was sitting on my shoulder, the supreme perfectionist, making judgment calls that hindered my efforts. Every word had to be the best, the dialogue pitch perfect, the texture rich and colorful and the scenes taut with emotion.   
It’s true when people say writing is as much a personal journey for the writer as it for the story’s characters.  
So my big realization this month, the great AHA moment is: Be aware when the internal editor pays a call. When your work slows to a crawl, you may have an unwanted visitor. To combat such negative energy, here are a few things that have since helped me.
Set a daily word count goal and stick to it.
Do not stop to research, correct spelling, fine edit previous chapters, or visit the thesaurus every five minutes.
Do not stare at the clock on your computer.
Do not play freecell, solitaire or check email ever when working.
Do not get up for a glass of water, coffee or tea every fifteen minutes.
Take big, calming breaths.
Say a positive affirmation.
Do not be afraid of the outcome. It can always be changed. 
And when the day’s work is finished, be pleased with the outcome.
My goal for this month is to complete Amaryllis. Next month I’ll let you know how it all turned out. Until then, stay happy and well read.

The author planted in her chair doing it!

Joyce Proell, author of Eliza.
Coming in July – A Deadly Truth
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TKToppin said...

Great advice! Unfortunately, I'm a bit of a OCD and if I see a spelling wrong or a sentence wrong while writing, I HAVE TO stop and fix it or else I simply cannot continue. Same goes for naming something, or researching something. I literally hear the brakes squeal and I have to stop. I also think once we figure out a working routine and formula that works for us, then nothing else will interfere with it. Focus is the main thing.

TK Toppin

Big Mike said...

I think the problem to just DO IT gets harder the more stories you get under your belt. I've noticed now with 18 stories released gets harder each story. My reasons for not finishing outnumber those for pushing through.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

You are both right. I'm a bit of both. OCD and skipping through. I do leave spaces for further research, marked as...(Research). If I can't spell a word or don't have a word, I either brainstorm with synonyms, or put something in red and move on.

Occasionally, after I think I'm finished, I will go back and replace something with new information such as CT-Scan instead of Cat-Scan. Or adjust an editing preference.

I never set an arbitrary number of words or pages, even when editing a final. If you are tired or distracted you can make mistakes that slow you in the second draft. It's not worth it. Just start doing it, and when you dry up just stop doing it until the next day.

Liz Fountain said...

I think the "just do it" part is exactly right; the thing is, each of us has to decide what "it" is. I adore the rush of the first draft, find satisfaction in revision, and really loathe fine editing. But if I do something every day - that's all, just something - sooner or later it comes together.