The Continuing Story of My Second Draft

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‘Jack Built My House’ by Bryan Fink

I’ve posted several times about doing the second draft of my book.  This is the latest installment in the eighteen-month story of my efforts.

One word describes things at the moment.  Confused.

I’m adding others.  Messy.  I am okay with messy.  Messy happens in all my creating at some point.  It gives me possibilities.  Having been a neat and tidy child, as an adult I enjoy messy.  Also, I know how to go from messy to focused, a useful talent.

Another word.  Procrastinating.  Somehow, and I have said this before, other jobs and delights keep taking precedence over my second draft.  Strange how that happens.

Yesterday I am telling one of my fellow artist-writer friends about this.  We come to the conclusion I need to clear a chunk of time for only the draft.  Yes.  I do this.  Now marked off in my diary is February through May.  My friend will meet with me throughout this time to help me keep accountable to myself in getting the draft done.  Cool.

A third word.  Blind.  This draft feels like I’m doing a jigsaw puzzle without the picture from the box top to tell me how things should look.

I tell this to another artist-writer friend.  She talks about finding the arc of the story, a kind of outline.  Oh.

I know about outlines.  I tried one out at the start and it drove me crazy.  I learned I am a writer who feels her way through the story.  As Nanowrimo fans say, I’m a pantser, not a plotter.

I am very visual in my thinking.  My friend says ‘arc of the story’.  In response, I see the image of an arc drawn on a big sheet of paper, with me writing sticky notes all along it.  This makes sense.  A way of creating an outline that works for me.  Here is my picture of how things will look when I am done.  Yay!  The picture will likely shift as I go.  That’s okay.  I still have a picture to play with.

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Writing Past the Internal Critic

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My studio window is open. It is a gorgeous day. Sun. Blue sky. Sweet warm air. My bamboo chimes are moving with the wind, sounding between the calls of robins and chickadees and songbirds I can’t identify but whose voices I love.

Perfect weather. Or maybe not. My internal writing weather, up until this moment, was all ice, frozen way below zero.

In other words, for the last two hours I have not been practising the art of creativity. I have been practising the art of procrastination, and doing it well.

As a direct result, I have renewed a studio rule for myself. First write the blog post.  Then, and only then, turn on the laptop and play in the email and the internet.

I already knew this. If I turn on my laptop before I write, I am lost. My email inbox and the internet in general are a wonderful and devious distraction. Even as I play in them, I know what I am doing—putting off the writing.

Why? I love writing. Totally true. I am not a writer who prefers having written. I am a writer who prefers being in the action of writing, being in the energy and process of creating. Having written is fun and satisfying, but being in writing is where the whole of me sings. I am in love when I am writing. Joyful. Playing. It is work, yes, my work, and it fills me when I am in the midst of it. Work that is play.

So why the two hours of mucking around on my laptop and putting off the writing?

Most of what I have been doing the last four weeks has been needed and necessary, but most of it has not been writing. I am out of practice is the simplest way of saying it. When I get out of practice, my internal critic attempts a coup to stop me ever writing (or creating) again.

She is sneaky, my internal critic. This morning she got me to turn on my laptop to do some essential research. Ha ha. There should be quotation marks around the word essential.

She is a know-it-all, opinionated and bossy. She used to be able to stop me in my tracks, keep me away from the page and from the easel. Now she only manages to occasionally slow me down for a couple of hours. My love of creating is stronger than any fears she can throw in my way.

Over the years of creating, I have found ways to distract and weaken my internal critic. Here are two that work well for me.

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