Intensifying Motivation

A couple weeks ago, I taught a class in motivation and also wrote a post about it. The genesis for class and post was multiple discussions of motivation and how difficult it is to deal when there’s a lack of it during my time in France.  Since then, I’ve had my eye out for motivation techniques.

I’m reading a book in galley and in it, the  the heroine worries about dating a younger man. This is her main motivation for resisting him. (And, you know, the heroine must resist the hero or there is no story.) I thought it was a pretty lame motivation, to be honest. But then she takes it a step farther and tells why. Because in ten years the age gap will be worse.  Because she’ll be old and infirm long before him. In truth, I can’t remember the reasons, because I was so excited to see the technique.

In my current WIP, the main character’s motivation for resisting the dashing love interest is her business ethics. She’s a matchmaker, and she’s sworn never to marry a client. Never mind that said client is rich, charming, and perfect in every way. She cannot marry him because–business ethics. Yeah, I know. Every beta reader, as well as my agent and all her readers, thought it was weak, too.

So part of how I can solve the problem, which just occurred to me after much pondering and wringing of hands over motivation, is by intensifying it for the reader.  Not just saying business ethics but saying more. In Bridget’s head, she goes into all the reasons that falling in love with Cade will  destroy her integrity and impact her business.

This is illustrative of a thing that happens in writing: you either pare things down or add to them. Sounds obvious, but sometimes you think you have to dramatically change everything, when really what you need to do is intensify it.

And here’s another way to intensify motivation: have other people comment on it. For instance in the galley I just finished reading, the main character worries about dating a younger man, as mentioned above.  And what happens is that other people comment on it. Like a more “appropriate” aged policeman says, “Isn’t he a bit young for you?” and then hits on the heroine himself. This happens, in various guises, a couple of times in the book. It’s enough to drive home the point.

In my book, I could have people question Bridget’s decision to date Cade. As in, “But isn’t that sort of against the matchmaker’s code of ethics?” Or, it could be as subtle as someone asking, “Do you ever date clients? Or is that considered a bad thing?”

You get the drift, right?

Like so much in writing, these are somewhat subtle techniques, but very, very useful to put into effect. And, I came to them through reading. Which you should be doing as much as possible of, right? You are, aren’t you?

How do you deal with motivation in your characters?

And might you be motivated to come to France to study writing in September? We are getting close to full, but still have a couple of spots.

Arc in Your Writing

Does your writing show clearly defined arcs? In story, scene, and character?

I spent last Saturday afternoon teaching about arc and it has gotten me thinking about it a lot. Whenever I teach, I do a lot of research to add onto what I already know. That research got me paying more attention to the arcs of my own scenes (more on that below), and re-examining arc in my own work.

It is a useful concept that can help you with the macro–the overall story–and the micro–individual scenes–as well as characters. So let’s take a look.

What is Arc?

The purpose of arc is to show change, whether that is in plot, the overall story, or character.  Because, in most cases, a story or character that doesn’t change is flat and, well, boring.

Arc in Story

Here’s a blurb from Wikipedia: 

Story arcs in contemporary drama often follow the pattern of bringing a character to a low point, removing the structures the character depends on, then forcing the character to find new strength without those structures. In a story arc, a character undergoes substantial growth or change, and it ends with the denouement in the last third or quarter of a story.

Note how story and character are intertwined in this explanation–as they will be  in your story itself. Think about it this way: your story will end in a different place than it started. And I don’t mean location, though this might well be true. You start out with a bored frustrated attorney who hates his job? By the end he will have found his truly calling as an organic farmer. Or something.  And yes, I’m veering from story to character here–because story is character, character story. Unless you are writing an obscure, plot-less novel of some sort. Good luck to you–but I’m not going to read it.

(Although, it must be said that tons of people have lapped up the Elena Ferrante books, which to me were essentially plot-less. Okay, I only made it through the first one and that because I was trapped on an airplane with nothing else to read. But they were pretty formless.)

Arc in Character

The basic idea is that your main character is faced with conflicts that take her away from her normal life and things she can depend on. This is change. But then your character has to deal with this change–and it is through doing this that she is transformed. Because of the need to confront the conflicts in her life, she is different at the end than she was at the beginning.  I especially like Michael Hauge’s statement that this transformation is from identity to essence.  All of the heroines of any novel I’ve ever written have followed this path, from trying to be somebody they are not to their true selves. In one way or another, it is a journey we all take.

Arc in Scene

As Robert McKee says, every scene should turn. This means it starts one place and ends up in another (sound familiar?).  A scene can have rising action or falling action. Here’s McKee on the topic:

Look closely at each scene you’ve written and ask: What value is at stake in my character’s life at this moment? Love? Truth? What? How is that value charged at the top of the scene? Positive? Negative? Some of both? Make a note. Next turn to the close of the scene and ask, Where is this value now? Positive? Negative? Both? Make a note and compare. If the answer you write down at the end of the scene is the same note you made at the opening, you now have another important question to ask: Why is this scene in my script?

This is a brief intro to the topic, but I hope it helps you see how important arc is, in every aspect of your story.

Some books and links that might be useful:

What is Narrative Arc? A Guide to Storytelling Through Story Structure

How to Create a Satisfying Story Arc 

Plotting Your Story Arc (book)

Story (by the above-mentioned Robert McKee)

Creating Character Arcs (book)

What do you think of the concept of arc? Leave a comment!

**We have a couple of spots left in the writing workshop in France this September. Check it out here.

This post contains affiliate links.

Ah, The Writing Life (A Love Letter)

And this week, for something completely different, some random writing thoughts:

Writing. My constant companion, my best friend. Until I decide I hate it.

Because it’s hard.

But sometimes it is really easy.

Most of the time, though, it is hard.

It’s the best life in the world.

But it’s hard!

That feeling you get when you finish a project.

The even better feeling you get when you start one!

Waking up early and going outside to write on a soft June morning.

Traveling to writer’s conferences and retreats.

Or staying home and meeting with my local writing tribe.

A new idea! It’s the best idea ever. It will make me a million dollars! I’m soon to be rich and famous.

But oh yeah, first I have to write it.

And that’s hard.

I never have any good ideas.

An editor likes my work!

Writing is so fun and easy.

I got a rejection.

Writing is too damn hard.

Oh God, I want to be done with this.

So that seems like a good time to procrastinate. I wonder if anybody emailed me?

But wait. If I just tweak that sentence a tiny bit…

What? Two hours have passed?

Writing. I love it.

(With thanks to Jimsy Jampots’s newsletter for the idea).

This post originally appeared in my weekly newsletter,  along with a compendium of useful and interesting links for writers. I also offer my list first crack at sales and books and cover reveals. I’d love it if you joined!

 

 

How To Get Obsessed

Writing, like so many creative endeavors, is a strange gig. We writers do everything we can to avoid working on our projects, but then when we finally get to it, we don’t want to stop. While in many arenas, obsession is not considered a good thing, we creatives tend to cultivate it. I’ve recently written about the strange paradox that the more you do of something, the more you want to do and can do.  Which leads to…dum dum de dum….obsession. So here’s a handy guide on how to make it happen. (And let it be known, I’m talking about the good kind of obsession here.)

How to Get Obsessed

Make a commitment to your work and then follow through on it. I know no better way than this to get obsessed. Go to the page every day, or as often as you can, and you’ll find yourself gaining momentum.  So often, you find what you need in the writing itself. You may not think you know where the scene is going, but once you start writing, it shows you. But you won’t find it if you don’t sit down to the page. So do it, even when you aren’t inspired. Pretty soon you’ll find yourself obsessed. You’ll be thinking about your work all the time.  Using every few spare minutes to work on it. Coming up with brilliant ideas right and left.

Why You Want To

Because there is no better feeling on earth than that which you get from working steadily on a creative project. Have you ever focused intently on your writing, and after your session felt like you were in love with everything in the world? That’s the writer’s high that you get when you’ve got momentum in your work. When I’m on a roll like this, everything in my life works better. I smile at the cranky grocery store check-out clerk and let all the negativities of the day slide off me.  All the things on my to-do list get done–because I’m so happy I don’t mind doing them.

How to Get Un-obsessed

Okay, honestly, being obsessed with your work all the time is not the best state of being. For a couple of reasons: first, you need to get out from behind the computer to experience life so that you have second to write about. (In other words, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Or Jackie a dull girl.) And second, that old myth about the tortured writing staying up all night to work ends up with said writer collapsing and then not being able to write for another month. So the key is to get a steady burn going. Step by step we travel far, as my Mom always said.

It’s a good idea to take breaks often. And by breaks I mean intentional breaks. Not lollygagging across the internet, but doing an activity that means something to do you. That will refresh you. And for God’s sake get up from you chair and walk and stretch once in awhile. (Which I have a difficult time with, partly because of pain in my knee.)

And also, know that at some point, your obsession will end. It just will. That’s part of the creative cycle. You can’t go full out all the time, and nor do you want to (see first paragraph in this section.) If you’ve suddenly lost the urge to write, maybe your brain just needs a break. Listen to it and give it one.

Are you obsessed with your writing? Leave a comment or discuss on the Facebook page.

Photo from everystockphoto.

Writing and Reading; Reading and Writing

If you want to be a writer, or consider yourself a writer, or are planning to be a writer, do not let me catch saying you don’t have time to read. Ahem. Because, really? You have no business writing if you’re not reading. Everything. All the time. Books and blogs and magazines and the backs of cereal boxes. (Maybe they aren’t so good to read anymore, I’m not sure–I rarely eat cereal these days.) You should be inhaling words from your reading as much as you are flinging words at the page.

Most of us writers come to writing because we loved reading so much. Who among us doesn’t have a childhood memory of being transported to another world by a book? Who among us hasn’t read a book and thought, I wish I could do that. Or even, I could do that way better than he did.

Words in, words out. The more I write, the more I feel I need to read. (Sort of like this weird paradox I described here.)  It is as if I need to fill myself up with enough words so that I have a store of them to spit back out again. Have you ever felt like that?

Just in case you’re not reading everything you can get your hands on, here are a few tips:

Read as a writer

Once you start writing, reading is never quite the same again–because you are paying attention to all the things that slid past before.  Cultivate this habit.  Consider how the author writes description, and dialogue.  What does she do to make the character leap off the page? What kinds of stylistic techniques does he employ? How does setting figure into the story? And how is the book structured? Jane Smiley’s book on reading the novel is a useful starting point. Oh, and you might want to consider reading a book twice.  You’ll be amazed at how much you learn the second time through.

Write about your reading

Lately, as part of a journaling template I’m following in the morning, I’ve been writing a few words about what I’m reading. I find this a helpful practice because it helps me notice. In the book I’m reading now, for instance, I’m admiring the way the author uses fresh verbs and original descriptions. In the previous book I read, I noted how the author did some interesting loops with time.  This noticing is why MFA programs as well at the writing program I teach at requires their students to write essays about their reading.  Because deep reading is an excellent way to teach yourself to write. And writing about your reading is even more effective.

Read in your genre 

In all genres, from mystery to romance to horror, there are certain tropes. If you’re writing in a genre, you need to know these tropes. Here’s the deal: if you’re writing mysteries, it is likely you love reading mysteries. And by reading a lot of mysteries, you’ve soaked in these tropes without even being aware of it. Which is why reading a lot is so good for the writer.

But don’t limit yourself

Branch out from the genres once in awhile. Read a memoir or some heavy literature, or how about a book of short stories or essays? You might be surprised what you find. And it just might inspire you to write something different, too. It can be really good for your writing to fool around in a different genre.  Read dumb bestsellers and obscure classical novels, or at least take a look at them.

Always carry a book or Kindle or something with you

You never know when you’re going to get stuck in a line, or waiting for a child, or when you’ll be early for an appointment. Have something to read. Take it with you to the gym, so you can read it while on the treadmill (they always have boring TV shows on at the gym anyway).  You can’t read if you don’t have something to read with you. Righ?

Okay, those are some of my ideas. How do you read as a writer? Has your reading changed since you started writing? Leave a comment. Or head on over to the Facebook group and discuss.

This article contains some affiliate links.

Have You Noticed This Weird Paradox? (A Love Letter)

First of all, Happy Mother’s Day to those of you who are mothers. The best mother’s day I ever had was the one in which I took myself out to a writer’s tea for the day—leaving my young children behind.  Anyway, to the rest of you—Happy Wise Women’s Day. Is that a thing? I thought I saw it somewhere. And I’m quite sure that every single one of my female readers is a wise woman. So happy day.

This week, I’ve been reminded of a weird paradox. I’m seeing in all areas of my life. It’s this: the more you do, the more you can do.  The more energy you expend, the more you have available to you. The more your read, the more you can read. The more you write, the more you can write. The more you knit, the more you can knit.

Okay, you get my drift.

And you might be disagreeing with me, scowling as you read. But hear me out. At first glance this paradox seems to make no sense. It’s backwards, right? There’s only so many hours in the day. How can the solution for getting more of something in your life be to add more of it?

But, it’s a thing, I tell you. I’m noticing it in my knitting. The more often I pick my current project up and work a few stitches, the more I want to. And the more I want to, the more I pick it up and work on, thus actually completing things (something I have difficulty with). So it’s a loop.

It’s been happening in my writing this week, too. I love journaling every morning but sometimes tell myself I don’t have time. I must get my word count in! Work on that rewrite! Write a blog post! Read manuscripts! But lately I’ve been starting my day with journaling again. I’ve also been doing random writing spurts to prompts in my writing notebook. And my writing productivity has increased exponentially. I was meandering along on my rewrite and suddenly I’m obsessed with it. Working on it is all I want to do.

Why does this happen? Here’s my theory: it has to do with passion and momentum and commitment. You allow your passion to have free reign (don’t take me too literally here) and that engenders momentum. And the more momentum you get, the more committed you become.

It’s a bit like being obsessed. And I don’t know about you, but I like this state of being because too often I’m meandering about the opposite way. How to achieve it? A lot if is about allowing. Allowing yourself to pick up the pen, even when you are feeling tired. (Writing is a surprisingly energetic activity, at least as far as your brain is concerned.) Allowing yourself to dive fully into the work. Allowing yourself to steal minutes away from watching TV and write instead. In other words, it’s as choice, my friend. It’s all about commitment.

And once you get obsessed, don’t forget to take some breaks once in awhile, too. In yet another weird paradox, getting too obsessed can lead to burnout and creative breakdown.

What have you gotten obsessed with lately? Leave a comment and tell me.

This post originally appeared in my weekly newsletter, which also includes links to cool things I’ve found in my internet travels. To sign up, click here.

On Motivation (In Your Characters and Yourself)

Last Saturday, I co-lead a workshop on motivation. 

We chose this topic because while I was in France, I realized that the motivation of my protagonist was weak. Very weak. And damned if that didn’t affect the whole plot, making it saggy in places and utterly not logical in others. Neither of which are good for creating stories that work.

We talked mostly about motivating our characters so that plots don’t sag. But we also talked some about what motivates us as writers and how, once we’ve found that motivation, we can keep tapping into it. I’ll get to that in a minute.

But first I wanted to share a couple of take-aways from the afternoon and a terrific list of motivations we came up with. A few take-aways:

–Motivation can come in layers. You think you have it nailed, and then you realize you need to go deeper. (Thank you, Jenni, for putting this into words. I was dancing around it.)

–There’s two kinds of motivation, external and internal. Think of external motivation as what the character wants (something can cause this, too); and internal as why she wants it.

–A good way to uncover your character’s motivation is to ask why. And keep asking why. This will lead you deeper and deeper.

And now, the list of motivations:

Avoid confrontation

Get out of an abusive marriage

Escape

Find the truth

Money

Fame

Power

Control

Fears

Family Duty

Grief (processing it)

Scientific discovery

Seeking knowledge

Self acutalization

Adventure or thrill seeking

Sex

Love

Avoiding death

Recovery from an illness

Presenting a facade to the world

Survival

Jealousy

Atonement

Creative urge

Mastery

As you can see, this is quite the list! I plan to save it somewhere I’ll have access to it and make additional notes on it. Because, trust me, you will save yourself time and misery if you figure out your character’s motivations ahead of time!

And now, the all-important question–what motivates you to write? That is something only you can answer, but after listening to the group members share their reasons, I can tell you it’s a good thing to ponder.  Ask yourself that question and write about it in your journal. You might be surprised with what comes up!

The other topic that came up often in France was arc. As in, what is it and why do I need it? So that’s the subject of our next workshop in Portland on May 19th. There’s still a couple spaces left if you’re interested. All the details are here. 

What motivates you as a writer? Care to share? Or tell us about your character’s motivation? Leave a comment! Or come on over to the Facebook group and discuss.

Charlotte’s Monthly Round-Up Love Letter

Okay, so I probably should have done this last week, because we are already six days into the month, but I just thought of it. I’m talking about a new feature I’m trying—a monthly round-up of what’s going on in my writing life. Hopefully you will find things of use to you.

Outside my office window, the blossoms on the cherry tree are already fading. I can’t believe it is May! My month in France seems like a distant memory. And it is—I’ve been home nearly a month and a half. I’ve been busy working on my rewrite (see below), organizing my office, teaching, and working with clients. Oh, I also do quite a bit of shepherding of small children. (In case you need catching up, my daughter and her family moved in with us in March.)  It’s like being a parent all over again, only at least this time I can go close the door to my office. (Never mind that my office is the most favorite place of the two miniature humans who now live with me.)

Often sometimes I long for the gentle pace of the days in France, but I feel pretty blessed to have so much going on here.  We’re settling into a good balance. And if all else fails, there is wine. So let’s get to it.

What I Read

Train Your Brain, by Dana Wilde.  This book covers familiar ground—what you think affects your life—but the author writes about the topic in a way that I found convincing and easy to grasp. I’m a total wonk for brain stuff, and she talks about it without getting too science-y for me. Woo-woo warning: the topic lends itself to the woo, can’t be helped, so if this is not your thing, stay away.

A Gentleman in Moscow. I am loving this book. I bought it in hardcover for my husband a year ago Christmas. He read it and loved it but I ignored it. Finally picked it up and it’s so good. Amor Towles writes in an elegant style. He is also very good at dropping you into a scene, and explaining later. Something to emulate.

The Hazelwood, by Melissa Albert. Wasn’t thrilled with this one, though I had high hopes for it. I got confused with all the activity in the other world they enter and thought it went on a bit long. But points for inventiveness.

Digging In, by Loretta Nyhan.  This was a good garden-variety (hahahaha, I crack myself up) women’s fiction novel about a protagonist getting over the death of her husband through gardening. That she pisses off the home owner’s society in the process is a fun bonus.

On My To-Read List

Love and Ruin, by Paula McClain.  This is about Hemingway’s third wife, Martha Gellhorn, who was quite a star in her own right. She was a globe-trotting journalist in a time when that was relatively rare. I’ve always wanted to know more about her.

Willpower Doesn’t Work, by Ben Hardy. I hear this is a great book on productivity, which is a topic dear to my heart. I also recommend his newsletter.

What I’m Loving

My rewrite.  I was having hand-wringing fits about it earlier in this month. But, finally, I’ve reached some momentum on it again. I’m rearranging chapters and man, does that get complicated. My friend Mayanna says I need to get Scrivener for this. But when I’ve used it in the past I’ve ended up so frustrated I ditched it. Your advice?

What I’m Excited About

I never thought I’d want to teach writing. But when I got my MFA, there was a built-in component on teaching. From there I got hired to teach at MTSU in Nashville (distance program) and turns out I love it! I learn so much from my students and also from the process of figuring out how to share what I know.

Debbie (my teaching partner) and I taught a class on motivation yesterday and it was a lot of fun. Tricky topic—one of those ones that sounds so easy but is really quite complex. We’re teaching another half-day workshop here in Portland on May 19th, this one on arc—another tricky topic.

I love these classes because they are very hands-on. We build in lots of time for in-class exercises and discussion, which makes them more fun. And, I submit it is a better way to learn than to listen to one of us lecture on and on.

This is the same format we follow for our France workshops, and we just happen to have a couple openings. You know you want to come study writing (and write) by the shores of the Mediterranean in a charming town. Right?

What I’m Listening To

So, try as I might, I haven’t gotten on the podcast wagon. Because I’m so visual, I don’t process information auditorily well. That makes it hard for me to retain information I hear.

And, I don’t listen to music while writing because it distracts me. So, sorry, no play lists from me. But I do like to listen to music at other times and since we were gifted an Echo from Amazon (which we usually just call the Alexa, since that’s the name you use to get her to do something) we’ve been listening to a ton of it. So far, we’ve not been able to stump her, although my son said he asked her to play Frank Zappa and she didn’t know him. Shocking!

On The Blog

Spring Cleaning Your Writing

Is It Procrastination or Percolation?

The Usefulness of Thinking Small (In Writing and In Life)

Writing Rituals That Work

Write It Imperfectly, Do It Imperfectly

The Ritual is Opening the File (How to Get Your Writing Done)

How About Some Writing Prompts?

On Story Questions and Traveling Home

I’m hoping that May brings a lot more of the same—writing, reading, working with clients—only that more of it will be done outside! What about you? How is your writing going? What have you been reading? I’m always in the market for new titles. Leave a comment and tell me everything.

(This post contains some affiliate links)

Spring Cleaning Your Writing

It’s sunny and warm in Portland, and there’s no better place on earth when such is the case. (People visit here in spring or summer, fall in love and move. Then the fall and winter rains set in. Rah roh.)

This year, more than any I can remember recently, I’m feeling very spring-y. Maybe it is because I spent a month in France earlier this year (seems like a distant memory now), or because there are so many ongoing changes in my life. But whatever it is, I’m feeling like shaking the cobwebs out of my house, my brain, and my writing. Time for a refresh!

Here are some things I’ve been thinking about cleaning up:

Mindset. This word is becoming cliched, which is too bad, because I like it. Wave the word under my nose and I’ll follow you anywhere. Maybe because I’ve always believed how important it is to maintain a positive mindset, even if I can’t always do it. Things I’m looking at: Am I constantly complaining about how little time I have to write, or actually sitting down and getting to it when I do have a few minutes? Am I fretting about how “good” I am or am not? am I complaining about how hard it is to complete this rewrite? I need to pay attention to the crap my brain spews at me and change it to a more positive message. I’m reading a book called Train Your Brain that talks about this. There’s not a lot new in it, but she explains it in a simple, logical manner. I like.

Process. Remember how glorious it was, when first you started writing, to get so absorbed in your work that time passed and you had no sense of it going by? Yeah, me, too. That feeling is why so many of us write. And it is really easy to get led away from it. Happens like this: you start obsessing over every word and sentence, polishing your prose relentlessly before you move onto a new scene. Uh-uh. There’s a process to follow for your writing and it goes like this.

–Write a discovery/rough/first draft. Make it crappy. You won’t have to try too hard to do this, because it will be crappy. Discovery drafts are. That’s why there are called that. You’re learning the story and getting it down on the page.

–Rewrite the draft. Go back over it, ponder, rearrange, deepen characters, makes sure your plot is working, look at theme, and then write a second draft.

–Rewrite again. And again. And again–for as long as it takes.

–Revise. When your characters and plot and everything else is working, then you can start polishing.

So take a look at where you are in the writing process and clean it up. Are you writing a discovery draft, but toiling over every line? Cut it out. Write fast. Get that story on the page. Are you ready to revise (see below) but still tinkering with character motivation and arc? You need to go back to rewriting.

Polishing. Remember that you need to wait to do this until the final run-through! Though one caveat is if you know you use too many adverbs, you can start being aware of that as you write. But no obsessing! Here are some things you might want to pay attention to:

–Strong verbs. Are you using them? Or reverting to the same old, same old variants of “to be?” The blog post I wrote on this years ago is still one of my most popular ever, so I think it is something we all struggle with. But also something worth spending time on.

–Adverbs. Gotta love ’em. I do. And I use them way too much. There is a place for the use of adverbs, there really is, but the key concept is to use them judiciously. That way they will have some oomph and impact.

–Sentence structure. Make sure yours is varied, for one thing. Nothing is more monotonous than reading the same sentence structure over and over again. And, also consider shortening up those babies. Here’s a great blog post that explains more.

Reading. I’ve been trying to spend more time reading books and less time on the internet, reading forgettable articles. Besides Train Your Brain, mentioned above, I’m finally getting around to reading A Gentleman in Moscow, which I highly recommend. There’s a satisfaction in sinking into a novel or memoir that you just don’t get from quick hits on the interwebs.

Foundation Rituals. All the “boring” stuff, like meditation, exercise, eating healthfully, getting enough sleep. Yada, yada, yada. You’ve heard it all before a million times and so have I. (And I’ve written about it.) But these things really do make a difference. And at this time of year, it is easy to get re-inspired to walk more and eat all the seasonal produce that is coming into markets. Right?

So, that’s the spring cleaning I’m thinking about. How about you? Leave a comment and tell me how you’re cleaning up your writing! And if, in all this cleaning, you realize you might need a little help with your writing, maybe I can help. Hit me up and let’s chat about your work.

Photos from everystockphoto. 

Is it procrastination or percolation?

Right now I’m supposed to be writing. I have some time cleared away for a session attending to my rewrite. But I’m not writing. I’m doing social media. (VERY important.) I’m making a list of all the things I want to accomplish in the next four months. (Before I leave for my next France workshop.)Emailing people who have expressed interest in attending.

In other words, doing everything and anything but writing.

But, here’s the deal.  I’m at a tricky spot that needs working out. I’ve looked at the chapter a couple times today and sat back in my chair and sighed. Furrowed my eyebrows. Twisted my mouth. Sighed again. Then clicked on over to check out Twitter.

Because in the back of my mind, things are percolating. Every time I look at the manuscript, I get a bit closer to figuring out how to work on it. And since I don’t know yet, I’m letting things percolate while I do other less brain-fatiguing work.

Creativity is a cycle. You can’t go full out on it 24 hours a day. You’ve got to give your brain a break. It is useful if you can actually refuel it by doing something you love to do. This morning on a phone call, I knitted, for instance. That was lovely–and knitting has the advantage of helping jar loose ideas.

My friend Patty Bechtold tweeted this Elizabeth Gilbert quote:  “Time, when treated like a bandit, will behave like one.” Sometimes, you just have to take the time to knit, to do your social media, to go for a walk, to weed the garden and let those ideas percolate.

It is not procrastination, it is percolation.

By the way, if you’ve got things percolating that aren’t making it onto the page, maybe you need a coach. Let’s chat!

I used to drink coffee from an electric perc coffemaker like the one in the photo. Those were the days. Man, that coffee was strong! Just the way I like it.