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How Do You Know When You're Procrastinating-Writing and Actually-Writing?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Addison, Jun 8, 2016.

  1. Addison

    Addison Auror

    That is the question I've been facing. Granted some of my revision notes make sense. (One of my problems is consistency) But seriously. Whether you're just starting the story or working on draft 52, there will always come a time when you find yourself brain storming or rewriting the story, or just one scene, over and over for no apparent reason. Just rewriting as a sort of circle or never-ending loop of the same thing. I do think I'm in that spot, but how does one really know where they're procrastinating or actually doing what needs to be done? And if procrastinating, how do you break free?
  2. bdcharles

    bdcharles Minstrel

    The browser window gives it away. ;)

    In all seriousness, is one timewasting and another not? Surely you're talking about early versus late rewrites. Personally, when I feel either sick of the sight of something or thrilled with it, I try and move on. I can always go back. Some advice I read a while back went along the lines of: stop writing before you want to stop writing. Pithy, but makes good sense, i.m.o.

    But if you are stuck, try thinking about things like voice and tone. Does your bit being edited match tone? Does it drop the tension in the middle of an action scene, for instance? Does it contain a repetition from something else nearby? These should hopefully give you nudges to bat it all in the right direction. Good luck :)
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2016
  3. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    I know when I feel the job is done. When I rewirite/edit, there's a purpose to it, build on the world, character, plot, cut the fat, or polish prose, etc. In each draft I focus on one of those things. When I make a pass and say i feel I've finished my character edits then I move on to the next thing. My final pass is usually a prose polishing pass. Once that's done, then for the most part, I'm done.
  4. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    I'm no help on this one. I have truckloads of pages I have written that were more or less wasted effort--certainly not usable--but at the time, I always felt I was making progress. I *always* sing in tune! It's only afterward I realize how dreadfully wrong I was.
  5. troynos

    troynos Minstrel

    Only you can make that distinction.

    Are the changes you're making now legitimate changes that affect the story or just nitpicky things? If it's nitpicky, like changing out a single word here or there, then it's probably past the point of being productive.
  6. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    Chances are, the OP can no longer tell what's nitpicky and what isn't. That's the difficulty. One needs an outside reader who has some objectivity and critical skills.
  7. Velka

    Velka Sage

    I think it depends on your goals and motivation. Sometimes there's things I know I need to do, but I mentally, emotionally, psychologically don't feel up for, so I lapse into "procrastination" writing, and while it's certainly not the best use of my time, I don't consider it a waste of time.

    (Disclaimer: While I would love to be published one day, it is not a burning life goal, nor a career path I have made life choices around. I have a day job I love and writing is a serious hobby that one day may lead to more.)

    I believe that any writing you do makes you better. Whether it serves an immediate purpose or goal, or if it's just putting off writing that pivotal, but daunting scene where you need to cram world building, character development, and a new conflict that makes things worse for your MC that you feel real-world guilt for piling on them because damn, they've already suffered so much.

    I've written about seven (?) different chapters for a WIP where the goal was to bring two characters together and set some stuff up. Same goal, seven different scenarios. Was it procrastination writing? Yes. Iteration #3 was pretty good, but it was a fun thing to try out "what ifs?" on. I ended up sticking with #3, but the subsequent 4 chapters that I wrote, and shelved, helped me get to know my characters, their needs/wants/faults/motivations; better than I ever would have grasped had I not went through that writing process.

    There are definitely times that writing can be a big old time waster, if you have goals and word counts and the such, but if you're writing more for the journey, and less focused on the destination, any writing is valuable writing.
    xxyesenia25 and Nimue like this.

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