Monday, December 05, 2005

Procrastination and Pages

The best thing I ever did at school was learn how to touch type. And when I was sixteen, my parents bought me a typewriter so I could write a bit more professionally. It was a big clunky electric IBM about the size of a microwave that made loud and impressive whacks with each key.

It was so sensitive, you only had to breathe on a letter and it would type so I became quite good and quite fast, quite quickly. Whenever ‘lost thought’ would set in (staring hypnotically at a blank piece of paper), I would type the introductions to whatever book was lying around (the bits about the author for example). This helped me practice my typing while downstairs my parents nodded at each other as if I was steaming away on a masterpiece.

So, I left my fingers do the talking for most of this morning and managed to write twelve pages of my script. As I say, I haven’t outlined or done a treatment but now I know where the story is going and what’s going to happen, I’ve jotted down a rough outline of where I want it to go.

There’s still room for the characters to surprise me or go in a different direction. I’m really enjoying it. It’s great to have the momentum and the desire to actually sit down and get stuff done (especially as it’s pretty hectic this week with a host of demanding distractions).

Procrastination is always such an easy and accessible hobby that will consume most of my days when I’m less busy and focused. But why is that? All writers suffer, at some stage or another, and most would admit to ‘enjoy having written rather than having to write’. It’s curious, n’est pas?

After all, we set ourselves apart from other mere mortals by the lofty call to write and yet when we sit down to put pen to paper we find ourselves doodling or staring off into space. It seems to me that it’s a crushing habit of human nature. We will choose the least resistance and easiest option to whatever it is that we want. We won’t even indicate off roundabouts as soon as we’ve passed our test for crying out loud.

So while the desire to create and write is strong, and gets our asses to the desk, the mental effort of clearly getting across what we want to say summons a stumbling block because we realise that this writing lark is actually hard work and we’d rather have it easy, thank you very much.

My mother is a good example of this (sorry Mum). She’s a good writer but doesn’t want the hassle of rewriting anything and she can’t bear anybody being critical about what she’s written. And so, she busies herself with writing courses and 'get writing' books but once they’re done, she does nothing. Sits back and waits for the Muse to call. But guess what, the Muse is on holiday and has turned off her mobile.

And as for being sensitive about people criticising or rejecting your work? Sheesh, that’s a whole different side of things completely. A stinging rejection can send you into a dizzying spell of procrastination and self-doubt. Gotta keep going, gotta keep trying. Easier said than done of course but to leap that hurdle between keen amateur writer and hardened pro, you must develop a thick skin and a desire to write, even when you don’t want to.


James Moran said...

Every time I check your blog, there's another informative, interesting entry. Mine are all like "got a thing to do, had some chips, oh look a shiny thing", when I can even manage to do one.

Anonymous said...

I remember how manic you sounded on that typewriter!

More frantic than Riverdance..


Unknown said...

I have trouble thinking of an idea these days, and when I do someone else does it before I get a chance.