I was busily working on a new short story to make the submission deadline. I’d chopped and changed to my heart’s content and the story still didn’t feel quite ‘right’. Eventually, my initial inspired burst of scribbling fizzled with dread at the fact that my story wasn’t coming together quite as well as I’d hoped and I had, instead, developed a type of writer’s block.
Well, what I mean is, I’d get on the computer and do anything except continue writing that particular story. It wasn’t writer’s block exactly – I could write emails and other projects just fine, thank you very much. It was just the prospect of actually having to finish that competition story that suddenly seemed more than should reasonably be demanded of a mere mortal like me.The deadline loomed larger and yours truly was online following the progress of Prince George, checking the status update history of each and every one of my tweeps on Twitter and obsessively reading and refreshing my Amazon Kindle reports (alas, the sales numbers didn’t change for TWO WHOLE DAYS!)
Not surprisingly, I missed the deadline and the possibility of prize money (make that the faint possibility) but a few days after that I realised what I’d also gained. On the wrong side of the deadline, I gained a new perspective on the story based on something I’d found while googling aimlessly. Eureka! There was the muse again, and I was back to frenzied scribbling to finish the story.
Much as I’d like to believe there is, I’m convinced that there is no formula to writing. There is no fail-safe prescriptive treatment which will address plodding pace, uninspired prose or characters who just fail to say what you think they should. Sometimes, when a story seems to lose its steam, and everything comes to a halt, the best you can do is ….. give in. Take the walk, make the phonecall, reorganise the spice rack and all the white socks.
The point is, eventually procrastination comes to an end. Either you drive yourself crazy not reducing the story in your head to words, or the story dies a natural death (something to be thankful for, on occasion) or you’ll do something while procrastinating that will trigger a new path for you to walk along with the muse.
Procrastination is good!