Monday, October 24, 2011

Anti-Procrastination Live Blog





I am a procrastinator.


There, I said it. And as is the case for lots of writers, the internet is my arch-nemesis when it comes to procrastinating. And I want to do something about it.

I've been (procrastinating by) watching Stephanie Perkins and Beth Revis live-blog their goals the past few days, and it's hilarious and awesome, not least because I love seeing that Real Writers stare at their computers and take snack breaks and curse their lack of motivation as much as the rest of us.

And so I thought it would be fun and maybe informative to keep track of my day. How much time do I really waste when I'm trying to write? How boring and mundane is most of my day, really?

Background: I work from home, and I work for my husband. I am not a full-time writer by any means, but the combo of these two things means that some days I have more time on my hands than someone with a normal 9-5 job, and that if I can get my work for the day done fast, I have some free time. For this I am incredibly grateful and I know that I'm lucky, so I'm constantly trying to figure out how to focus and use my time better.

Today is a good day to try this, because I don't have a ton of work-work today (did a good deal over the weekend--one of the things that makes working from home a double-edged sword. You can find a lot of free time, but you're also *never* not-working like you would be in a 9-5. Hubby and I are often work-working on say, Sunday nights, or Saturday mornings, or all weekend. But then that means I have some time on Monday to write. It works out.) :)

So today, I have a small-ish amount of work-work, a few other things, and lots of writing to do. Let's see how much I procrastinate!

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7 am - Up at a normal time. I'm a relative night owl, so am usually grumpy before 6:30 or 7. Breakfast, coffee, morning discussions with husband about how our smallest cat has apparently just discovered that the bathroom counter exists, because the past few days she's been pushing toothbrushes, tweezers, bobby pins, and whatever else we leave out onto the floor at 6 am and then batting them around until we get up. And about how Payton Manning must've played defense and special teams for the Colts too, because this is a monumental collapse.

7:30-11 am - Work-work, interspersed with giggling at Twitter comments from CPs who get up earlier than me, email to different CPs, little bit of blog-checking, and inappropriate Twitter convos with Leigh Ann Kopans.

11 am - Snack. Even though breakfast was not that long ago.

11:05 - Trying to write. Stare at MS for a minute. Decide to go for a run instead.

11:15 - Out the door.

11:16 - Remember how much I hate running. Do it anyway because it's a pretty day outside, but not for very long because I HATE RUNNING.

11:35 - Back home. It is warm enough out that I was wearing shorts, but still had on a baggy sweatshirt. Only realized once home that when the shorts hike up a little, it looks from the back like I'm running without pants. This explains the honking from truck full of construction workers.

11:45 - More inappropriate but hilarious Twitter with Leigh Ann, Gina, and Chessie, and realize I should actually publish this blog and update it through the day rather than just having it saved. Read some articles online instead, like this one about last lines, because my last line sucks.

noon - Good lord. I have wasted a lot of time already. Gotten nothing done the past hour besides a feeble attempt at running.

12:20 -  Finally post blog after trying for 10 min to figure out why trying to put a space between paragraphs put a zillion spaces between paragraphs. 

12:22 - Realize that in order to attempt to meet goals, should probably define goals. 
Goals: Get through page 120 on printed MS line-edits and type in the next few chapters before this evening. 

12:40 - Still staring at MS. Shower. Wander around house wondering if I should re-arrange the furniture. 

1:10 - Actually sit down with MS. MS is currently open to a kissing scene. This is dangerous. Am constantly tempted to just work on kissing scenes and not the rest of the MS. Self 1: But people like kissing scenes! Making this kissing scene hotter would totally make the book better. Self 2: If all you ever do is make the kissing scenes hotter, the rest of the book is going to suck and then no one will even get to the kissing scenes. Self 1: Sigh. (Adds a couple new lines anyway.)

2:30 - Have somehow managed to stay off internet, and am...11% finished with daily goal. Dammit. That is not very good. 
Hubby comes home for lunch and some more work-work stuff.

3:30 - Chessie's query! Other people's stuff is SO much more fun to think about than my own.

3:45 - Housesitting for the in-laws and they have a really, really old cat that we are afraid is going to die while they're gone. Checking on the cat. 

4 - Cat is not dead! In-laws usually feed him special wet food like, 8 times a day. We're sticking with 3, but this is the first time I've given him the wet food today, so I stay and pet him for a while to make up for it. 

4:30 - Must get away from the house. Still only 11% done with goal. Run a few more errands and end up at Barnes and Noble cafe, because I love writing surrounded by books. I miss the Borders cafe. 

4:45 - Should get straight to writing, but am worried about my first page and wondering if I can find another book that starts in the Normal World and gives good hints of coming conflict. Spend ten minutes browsing first pages in the YA section. #research

4:55 - "Hi." I glance over and a teenage boy with a backpack is standing next to me in the YA section. I give him a little smile and look around to see who he's talking to. Almost laugh out loud when I realize he's talking to me. He starts asking me about Twilight, because his sister has read them, and he wants to know what my favorites are, and he's trying really hard to flirt with me and it is OH SO CUTE and really very brave--good job, kiddo! Trying to be polite and trying not to laugh while subtley waving my wedding ring around before this gets REALLY awkward for everyone and he realizes that I am an old person. It doesn't work, and I finally just have to do the, "Okay, um, bye," thing, and leave, and he looks kind of put out, and I feel sort of bad.

5:10 - I am FINALLY sitting down and am about to write. Seriously. Just as soon as I look at Chessie's query again.

...and as soon as I look around some news sites a little. Go to MSN. Something huge and important might have happened in the past couple hours, and I would need to read about it. Must keep up with current events. 
HELLO people, yes Jessica Simpson has been obviously pregnant for some time now. If she had just happened to gain 15 pounds straight to her stomach, do you think she'd be wearing tight tops like this? No. Jeez. I wonder if Suri Cruise has anything to say about this...and she does! 

5:25 - I am going to edit two pages in the next ten minutes. Two pages. Easy enough. 

5:31 - There is a really pretty girl sitting across from me wearing the most awful shoes. Why?! It makes me sad, and distracted. 

5:36 - Crap.

6:15 - Have done one more page. NOT GOOD. The only thing that made me do that was that I keep staring out the window, and guy sitting in front of the window keeps smiling at me, and I realized that he thinks I'm staring at him. #notcool. Eyes on paper.

8 - Go home. 30% done. Am SO not meeting today's goal (though, to be fair, I think it was an overly ambitious goal). Looking at Chessie's query has inspired me to work on my query. Spend way too much time looking through Amazon listings at flap copy with phrases like, "a terrifying mystery," "the future of mankind may depend on," and "secret societies, ancient coverups, and savage vengeance." 

9:30 - Hubby home. Too late for dinner-I'm having wine for dinner.

10:30 - New version of query. At least I've gotten something done today, though who knows how it'll end up looking in the light of tomorrow morning.

Midnight - I'm tired. Still only about 40% done. Should set a more realistic goal tomorrow. :)

12:45 - I am now playing that game with myself where I pretend I can still do anything productive even though I'm really tired, and all I end up doing is looking at the internet. (ooh, look! 12-year-olds in Russia discover they were switched at birth!) The next day, I always wish I'd just gone to bed. So...I'm going to bed. Thanks for hanging out with me!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Plot Lessons are Everywhere



...like in the TV show Nikita
Have you ever heard the idea that you should first throw small rocks at your characters, then strand them up a tree, and throw bigger and bigger rocks at them? Not to advocate physical violence, but because a character who has it easy is a boring character? Well, this episode did that perfectly.
Nikita had to do something hard, then the writers made it worse. Then they made it way, way worse:
Nikita (the protagonist) and Michael (the other protag/sometime love interest) are on a mission to kill some terrorist dude who killed Michael’s family years ago. This is already going to be very, very difficult, and the whole episode probably could have been about this. 
But then, Division (who Nikita has escaped from and who wants her dead) figures out that Nikita is there, and sends someone to kill her. Complication!
While they are lying in wait for the terrorist dude they have to kill, Nikita goes off to shoot him, but Michael sees Division coming after Nikita. But! Nikita’s earpiece has fallen out so he can’t tell her! Complication! 
So he has to go stop them himself, even though he works for them! And while he’s down there, terrorist dude’s cronies shoot him like a hundred times, but he’s wearing a bulletproof vest, so they kidnap him! And now Nikita is going to have to go save him! Complications everywhere!
See what they do? Make it hard, then make it way worse. Sorry, characters. :(