Procrastination Is The Thief…

Newsletter 59 – March 22, 2024

Hi,

The previous newsletter was about how trying to make a novel “perfect” can really slow the process down. Whenever I fall into the trap of trying to make everything perfect, I always end up wasting a lot of time, and sometimes — when progress seems futile — stop working altogether. That’s not a recipe for accomplishing anything.

Sometimes I think that procrastination, when it occurs, is just an extension of laziness. At other times I think it’s my brain telling me to take a different approach. Whatever it is, it always feels like an excuse to avoid labor. Fortunately it doesn’t happen that often, but last year’s events (see Newsletters 35, 36, 38, 42, 47, 52 and 53) made me wonder whether I would ever reach a point where I could work again on some sort of regular timetable.

In addition to all of the interruptions, I think I may have also discovered another reason why I’m having a hard time writing Flood and Fire. While looking to see which of my newsletters to list in the parentheses above, I glanced at Newsletter 029. It mentioned writing novels from outlines. In it I basically said that I can write from outlines but I usually don’t because I like for my characters to surprise me — or words to that effect. Because my primary sources for the novella are two very famous diaries (Samuel Pepys’ and John Evelyn’s), any details I use from their diaries have to match a fairly specific timeline (theirs); especially in regard to where each of the characters were during the fire, and what they were doing.

I guess what I’m saying is that tending to want my writing to be perfect is a good thing up to a point, but it can also stifle my creativity if I let myself get too bogged down in the story’s details. If I let myself get frustrated there’s a possibility that I’ll take too many breaks when I should keep working.

In a future newsletter I’ll talk about another timeline-structured set of novels that nearly drove me crazy, my two-book series, If a Butterfly. That one involved the stories of nine different people spread across an entire month, and covering nearly the entire United States, plus a few scenes in England and a number of scenes in outer space. Making all of their schedules line up and not contradict each other was mind-boggling. The next newsletter, though, will be about the music I used to listen to while writing.

See you then,

Michael

[“Procrastination is the thief of time,”
Edward Young, Night Thoughts, 1742-1745.]

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