Procrastination and finishing the rough draft

The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.
—Mary Heaton Vorse

One thing that I have to say about writing, finishing that first draft of your first novel is hard.

When I started my first novel it took me almost two years from idea to completion of the first draft. There are many reasons for my lack of commitment. The main one was procrastinating. I would tell myself, “I will write later” then never do it.

I put off the story, not because I didn’t want to be a writer but because I thought I could do it later. Doing it later is never the right thing to do. If we could always do it later most things would never get done.

Our houses would be a mess, our bills would never get paid, our kids would never get to school and we would never have saved up that money for that one vacation. That one vacation our kids remember until they are our age. You should treat your writing as you do everything I listed above.

There is another thing that stops us from finishing, that other book, you know the one. The one who we swear is better than this one in all aspects, the story feels better, the characters feel more developed. Well I’m telling you to ignore that story, write it after you finish the current one.

There is always time to write, that does not mean you should not write notes for that story. Always keep a journal and pen with you . I keep a Moleskine and my favorite Cross pen with me . I take these to work, the movies, the gas station. You never know when inspiration will hit you.

The other thing that is out of your control is life, I understand there are things that go on in every writer’s life that are beyond our control. The list can include, kids, wife, partners, in-laws(Yes they tend to get in the way with writing when they are visiting. They don’t understand that writing is what you do, and that is your first or second job).

The last is the day job, this can include many varieties. Whether you are a stay at home parent(Mom or Dad) work a regular nine to five or if you work in graveyard(which I have done, and it sucks). I know there are still people out there that don’t look at stay at home parents as if they had a job, well I am here to tell them, “You are wrong”.

I know a number of parents that are stay at home parents who do more in the first part of their day than most of do all day. My little sister is one of these.

She has different circumstances, her family is a military family. Her husband has been deployed three times, twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan. Believe me being a stay at home military parent is a lot harder than we give these men and women who support their soldiers credit for. She has four kids to take care of, pay the bills, take them to their sports or activities and try and find time to sleep at some point, I am very proud of my little sister and her husband.

Writing the first draft is about discovery, finding the characters voice, the setting, learning what everything is about. I write differently, I don’t use outlines anymore(they stalled my creativity).

I sit at the computer and type, the story comes, sometimes in waves, other times in trickles. But it is important to finish the draft. I am 20k into my new WiP and I have not stalled *knock on wood*. I believe being stalled is the story telling you that something is wrong, whether it is the plot, the characters actions or if it doesn’t have a cohesiveness and flow to the story.

After finishing the first book, I know what to look for when I feel the story is stalled, or that I am getting bored. I will read, or play a video game for an hour or so until I feel rested. But I always come back and write afterward.

Finish the first draft, wait a couple of weeks then come back to it. Write something else between the two, but always be writing.


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