Distraction and the Art of Dodging the Page
By Elizabeth Cutright
© 2012 The Daily Creative Writer
Did you know that a cat placed third in the Virginia senate race? Or that Charles Darwin garnered 4,000 votes in a Georgia contest? Did you hear the story about the woman who saved a random text from a stranger she received 4 years ago so that she could contact him again on election night?
Did you hear that Amazon is now selling wine?
Did you see the video of the cute tiger pouncing on couches?The other video of the poodle saved from a trash heap? (WARNING – this one will most certainly make you cry)? The trailer for World War Z just came out (starring a presumably Chanel-No-5-Free Bradd Pitt). And the reviews for Spielberg’s Lincoln are in, in case you’re…you know…curious.
“You are bored today,” my best friend just email me after I told her about Amazon’s amazing decision to combine books and wine – two of my most favorite things. “Maybe you should open a bookstore that hosts wine tastings.”
What a fabulous idea!
Truth is…I am not bored. I am actively avoiding my writing by trying to fill up the well with trivial internet content (well…take a look at that bouncy tiger again, not so sure he’s “trivial” per se….but I digress). I am doing exactly what Timothy Ferris asks that I not do – I am avoiding productivity by just being active.
I am spinning my wheels because it feels easier than spinning plots – and at this point in the game, I suspect I’m not alone. If you’re not at 18,000 words in, then you – like me – are seriously behind on your NaNoWriMo timeline. As of last night, I was about 4000 words behind – that means I’ve got to generate a surplus today, and that goal post is so far in the distance, so shrouded in weeds and half-hidden by obstacles, that I can have to squint just to make out its hazy edges.
But it’s like they say, even if you’re simply trying, you’re already ahead of everyone else who’s sitting this one out. So back to the page I go, but before I do, some tips and tools that should help you whether you’re a NaNoWriMo-er like me, or just trying to make check one item of your to do list.
First – courtesy Galley Cat once again – the writers that have come before advocate embracing failure.
- “[F]ailure instructs the writer. Every novel, in the moments before we begin to write it, is potentially the greatest, the most beautiful or thrilling ever written … Our greatest duty as artists and as humans is to pay attention to our failures, to break them down, study the tapes, conduct the postmortem, pore over the findings; to learn from our mistakes.” from Fountain City by Michael Chabon.
- Elif BatumanPart of failure involves bad writing – so embrace your grammatically (and thematically) challenged prose. As writer says, “My advice is keep writing. No time you spend writing will be wasted—even if you write something that’s bad. Everyone has a certain amount of bad writing to get out of their system. It’s important not to censor yourself and not to get upset or demoralized when you write bad stuff.”
If you’re feeling particularly masochistic (and you’ve got access to an iOS device), head on over to the Apple App store and download “Write or Die.” . Subtitled, “Putting the ‘Prod’ in productivity,” Write or Die promises to force you to write by attaching consequences to procrastination. There’s also a web-based version (I actually couldn’t gain access to the App via my computer – but I might just be hitting the wrong link) at the jump, but you’ll have to copy and paste your content to another word processing doc if you want to save it.
For the nuts and bolts side of things, there’s a bunch of free stuff out there that’s worth checking out.
- A novel cheat sheet: A PDF with questions you can answer as you develop your tale (http://www.nowhitespace.org/writing/cheatsheet.pdf)
- A character test: A multiple choice, character building workshop. (http://writeronline.com/)
- And Read Write Think: A plot diagram tool (http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/student-interactives/plot-diagram-30040.html)
And finally – this is really cool – student designer Fena Lee is accepting book cover design requests over at her website . As soon as I’ve got a better handle on what I’m going after, I’ll submit a request and post the result here.
In the meantime, these 700+ words aren’t getting me any closer to my NaNoWriMo goal, so I’m signing out and heading into my writer’s dungeon. Hopefully I won’t encounter any hibernating bears or pesky trolls.
All original content is the sole property of Elizabeth Cutright and The Daily Creative Writer. If you are reading this blog on another website, it has been reposted without the author’s permission in violation of the DMCA. © 2012 The Daily Creative Writer
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