On Procrastination

The last few days I've been traveling for work, which usually leaves me with ample time to write (thank you, Transportation Security Administration!), but I haven't been. And it's not because I'm having trouble with a project. I'm not. I have the TNP in first draft that I could restructure. I have the SENP, which I am totally in love with right now. And, to make matters worse, I just got another idea while watching the airport CNN network,* which I think is ripe with possibility. (Let's call it RWP, for now.)

In other words, my cup runneth over with stuff I would really enjoy writing.** So why am I not doing it? Why am I procrastinating?

I don't know. It could be any one of a number of reasons. Like, maybe I'm stuck on something (except I have three projects at top of mind right now, and I'm not stuck on at least two of them).

Or maybe I'm just really busy. But I'm not any more busy than usual, and yesterday I spent three hours doing yardwork (which I hate) instead of writing.***

Or maybe I'm putting things off because right now, anything is possible, and the minute I start writing stuff down is the minute I start closing off possibilities. Yeah, I think that's it.

The beautiful thing about a new project is that all avenues are open. Your characters can go anywhere and do anything. And the minute that you put something down on paper--the minute the character opens a door instead of turning on the radio--you've closed off an avenue.

And I know in some ways that's not true at all, because the amazing thing about writing is that you can always start from the beginning any time you want, and choose something else, right? Writing is the ultimate Choose Your Own Adventure.

Except it's not.

Maybe it works differently for other authors, but for me, once I write a character into a story, there's a limit on what that character can and will do. Take the SENP, for example. I've got a girl in there that I absolutely love. She's rough, this one, and sort of mean, and does stuff that, frankly, I wish I had done when I was in high school. But there's no way that she could be moved to another story now. She's already in a story. And that means that she's going to do certain things and act a certain way, and I couldn't move her to the RWP and have her be the same character at all, even though those two stories are at almost the exact same place right now (a.k.a. MOSTLY UNWRITTEN).****

So right now I'm standing on the precipice and looking down into the abyss,***** and just like in that Indiana Jones movie where the character steps into open air and the path becomes visible, the moment I step forward, the steps into the story will appear. But I suppose what I'm not realizing on an intellectual level at this instant is that the steps are already there. And nothing I'm going to do (or not do) is going to erase them.


* Television in the airport? Really? Is it necessary to have television EVERYWHERE, America? Can we not amuse ourselves at all anymore?

** As opposed to writing for work, which I often enjoy, but which is not the same. A service agreement requires a completely different level of imagination than a story.

*** Although I'm sure my neighbors are really happy about that choice, frankly. The lawn was looking a little rough. Like, in the same way that a trailer park looks a little rough after a tornado passes through. Now it just looks like I don't spend a lot of time on my lawn.

**** Note that this doesn't mean that the story doesn't change once I've written it down. HAHAHAHAHAHA...that's sooo not true. The story changes endlessly--I am all about revision. But the character can't be moved to another story. She might do different stuff in the story, or become a different person in the story, or she might be cut from the story altogether, but she's not moving on. She lives and dies where she was born.

***** Okay, it's more like standing on the top of the backyard and looking down into the barberque pit, but that's not quite as dramatic, is it?


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