Welcome back to Reading, Reading, Reading!
Today I have a very special guest post to share with you written by Raquel Rich, author of Hamartia! I have been in contact with Raquel over the past few months, and in truth, I owe her a review of her novel! However, I have been so busy with reading and reviewing ARCs, and since I love chatting with her, I wanted to feature a post written by her specifically for you (my blog readers)! Please enjoy a wonderfully written post about Raquel and her battle with procrastination (something that I think we can all relate to), more specifically the Procrastination Demon and the Elephant (yes, you read that right!).
I’m a writer and an experienced procrastinator. If this is also you, you may find comfort in this guest post. It otherwise contains no words of wisdom. It’s a short read, though (3min), so you can get right back to doing whatever you’re putting off by reading this entry.
I started writing this guest post to procrastinate from editing my work in progress. I researched the topic of procrastination which then caused me to put off writing this post. While researching, I came across an interesting article about elephants. How could I resist? I love elephants!
And this is how some of my days go as a full-time writer. I have to wonder if I spend less time writing now than I did when I only wrote on weekends. Though, when I wrote part-time, it wasn’t all sunshine and roses either. I suffered many long bouts of writer’s block (which, by the way, weirdly mimics procrastination).
Before I stumbled on the first elephant article, I read somewhere that the act of procrastination comes from negative emotions. In short, we put things off that don’t bring us pleasure. Sure. I get that. I don’t like doing the dishes or cleaning bathrooms. Except, I love storytelling. I want to be a writer. I am putting off the act of doing something I love and want. And what’s worse? Sometimes I clean the bathroom instead of writing. Why?
Here’s my take on it. Procrastination isn’t the problem, it’s the symptom. If you’re a writer, especially a newish one, you’ll not only understand but you’ll likely share the same problems. Yes, we love to write, but there are negative emotions attached to the craft and that’s why we procrastinate (and label it as writer’s block). For me, the negative emotions have been identified and narrowed down to two problems:
Negative emotion (problem) #1 – Fear of failure
There’s a little demon who sits on my shoulder and tells me that book one, Hamartia, is a one-hit wonder and I should quit while I’m ahead. It warns me that book two will flop and I should save myself the embarrassment and go back to my day job. Funny how that works. If book one had sucked, I wouldn’t have written book two. But book one didn’t suck and now I’m worried it was a fluke. I’ve set myself up for failure, the very thing I’m afraid of. The irony is absolutely infuriating.
As promised at the start of this post, I have no words of wisdom (sorry). Other than reminding myself that life will move on even if I fail and I’d rather fail than never know if I could’ve succeeded, I have no solution. I’m not the first writer to spend my days learning about elephants when I should be writing and I certainly won’t be the last. Writing. Is. Hard. And you know what? Yes, my next book might suck, but what if it doesn’t?
Side note: If you’re in the business of selling magical fairy dust for such problems, hit me up.
Negative emotion (problem) #2 – The overwhelming size of the project. Books have a lot of words!
The first draft of book two flowed out of me like a river. But with each round of revision, the river slowly dried up and there was no motivation in the forecast. By the time I made it to draft six, I was in the throes of a drought. There were over 300 hundred pages to organize, to weave backstory in and out of, to fill in gaping plot holes, and to stabilize the flow of. It was daunting. Just thinking about the effort brought on a tiny bellyache.
Again, no wise words, but here’s what keeps me going when I’m feeling overwhelmed: elephants. I ask myself the age-old question: how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. I break the manuscript down into tiny morsels I can chew on. I choose one chapter or one element, usually the easiest and shortest, and I revise that one thing before moving on to the next. Looking at 300 pages worth of words gives me a bellyache. Looking at a short chapter is manageable and on days when even that seems like a lot, I look at one page, one paragraph, one sentence. Forward motion is better than no motion at all. Have you got any tips and tricks?
In summary, here are four fun facts about elephants I didn’t know before:
1. Elephants can’t jump.
2. Elephants lose their first set of tusks and teeth just like humans.
3. Girl power! Female elephants lead the herd.
4. Eating an elephant in one sitting will give you a bellyache.
And if you want to read more (procrastinate from what you should be doing), here are two posts about self-doubt and fear of failure from my personal blog, www.raquelrich.com.
Raquel Rich is a proud Canadian author and a member of Broad Universe: an international, non-profit organization dedicated to promoting, encouraging, honoring, and celebrating women writers and editors in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and other speculative genres. She will be reading from her new book Hamartia and taking questions at the Toronto Public Library (190 Fort York BLVD) on Thursday, June 18th, at 6:30pm. Drop-in, no registration required.
Isn’t she fantastic? I must say that normally when I share guest posts I don’t usually love the topic the author has written about, or think that they haven’t put a ton of effort into it, but I genuinely loved this post and hope you did as well!
Good Night Book Owls!