Peanut Butter Ice Cream Procrastination

Peanut-Butter-Cup-Ice-Cream-5

A good friend of mine once told me, “You can’t be a real writer unless you sit down every day and write.”

We had a good argument about this. We argue about a lot of things. I think that’s why she’s a good friend. This comment of hers has stuck with me for years, though. I’ve asked myself several times: is it true? If I don’t sit my ass down every single day and write, does that mean I’m not a writer? (I know she meant every day you can, not when crap comes up that prevents you from doing so.) But no. I still disagree with her. There are plenty of writers who only manage to write on the weekends, or between cooking meals and changing diapers, or when they have a spare moment on a Weds. I do agree, however, that the more you do it, the better you get, and I’ve found my story flows far better when I stick with it, rather than drifting away from it for days/weeks/months at a time.

I’ve gotten a lot better, thanks to being in a relationship with another writer. N sits down every night, excited to work on her next manuscript, and she’ll work doggedly at it until she gets her thousand words done. In fact, she’s sitting next to me now, typing away, whispering little comments to herself as she works through her next plot point.

I, on the other hand, am sitting here blogging and eating peanut butter ice cream.

My manuscript is waiting until I ‘feel like it’. When will that be? Probably when there’s no more ice cream, chocolate, or crisps left, and I’ve got nothing else to do. Even then, I’ll probably go make a cup of coffee, or fold laundry, or find chin hairs to pluck (which is disturbingly easier with every passing year).

I’ll do just about anything but work on the manuscript. I think it’s because I’m not feeling the plot. I’ve got the characters, but the big story, the chief conflict beyond those of the character’s baggage, is eluding me. And if I’ve learned something about my writing, it’s that I’m plot driven: I want the story, and although the characters who make the story happen matter, I have to have an engaging story line. And if that story line hasn’t found me yet, my manuscript will continue to wait until it does.

That means I’m going to have to do what I tell my authors to do: work it out. Draw the story arc on the wall, if you need to. Build one out of Lego. Use a trillion sticky notes to map it all out. But if the story is going to go anywhere, I’ve got to know what I want to say, and what hell I’d like to put my characters through. Part of the problem is that it’s also the second book in a trilogy, and I’m ultra aware that I don’t want a repeat of the first book, and I need to lead into the third book. This seems to be stifling me, and I need to work around that too.

That’s what I need to do. But what I’m going to do tonight is take a bubble bath and read someone else’s writing.

Q: Do you write everyday? Do you have a particular schedule you write to?

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7 thoughts on “Peanut Butter Ice Cream Procrastination

  1. I don’t write every day. And I do find what you said is true, that the longer I stay away from a particular story line, the harder it is to get back into it and pick it up with a smooth seam from where I left off. Sometimes I think I would like to be able to write every day, but if I was able to do that, it would mean the other things in my life I hold as important and dear to me would no longer be in my life to require me to maintain a balance–and yes, sometimes it might just be peanut butter ice cream. 🙂 But it’s also the people I love, other things in addition to writing that make me happy like playing Frisbee in the park with my dog or rocking a baby, and reading a good book. So i choose balance.

    P. S. Your ice cream looks really good.

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  2. I’d been dating Sandi for a few months when I began working on my third novel, not a trilogy, last year. It became increasingly difficult to stick to my schedule of getting up at 5:30am, writing for a few hours, having lunch, doing errands, and then writing a few more hours before bed. I found exactly what you said about the story flowing. If I don’t write something everyday I have to spend time doing a more extensive review of what I’d written in order to pick up the story thread and move on.
    I sold my house and began the moving process at about chapter three. I packed boxes, cleaned carpets, decided what to keep and what to get rid of, and made many car-filled trips to my new home. Chapter four sat calling me.
    My deadline for submission loomed, so I requested a two week extension, and resolved to finish. I’m determined to make this the best it can be before sending it in for editing. I have a new writing space that I love, and I’ve found that having a close deadline has actually helped me to focus and write daily. In my opinion, the good thing about writing a novel in a couple of months, is that I can follow the plot much easier, and the next scene flows because I remember where I left the characters in the last one.
    Chapter twenty awaits. I best get to it.

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    • It’s crazy how the demands of life can mess so deeply with writing time and flow. I know my own work is better when I dedicate more time to it–I suppose that goes for many things we do in life!
      I’m so glad you’ve got a new writing space and you’re getting settled.

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  3. Yes, I write every day. I have several projects in the hopper at the moment, and I always have at least two things to work on, in order to write every day. I find the elusive plot line is much more likely to come to me while I’m working. If not on that book, then on a poem, or a play, or an essay. Writing keeps me alive in every sense. I know not everyone HAS to write every day in order to keep the work coming. But doesn’t every writer feel better having written?

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