Monday, February 24, 2014

Why Writers Are the Worst Procrastinators

So, as I was ‘writing’ recently.  Yeah, so I was ‘preparing’ to write.  Okay, I guess I was procrastinating.
We call it many things, don’t we?    Research.  Thinking.   Although, sometimes it really is research, and thinking, mulling, story lines and characters.   And it’s all legit and all.   Other times, we know it’s more of avoidance of the blank page.    Never does blankness hold such nervousness, or downright terror, than a writer facing a blank page.  And feeling like you have a blank mind to go with it.   Or is it worse to have an overfull mind teeming with all sorts of things and having difficulty getting them all down on that page in a way that constitutes not just a story, but a good one.   
Since we all want to be good writers, right?

So as I was looking at things to make me a better writer I came across this on writers procrastinating.

Of course I had to read it.  Research, you know.

Forced into a challenge we're not prepared for, we often engage 'self-handicapping': deliberately doing things that set us up for failure.

……..Whether you are more fixed or more of a grower helps determine how you react to anything that tests your intellectual abilities. For growth people, challenges are an opportunity to deepen their talents, but for “fixed” people, they are just a dipstick that measures how high your ability level is. Finding out that you’re not as good as you thought is not an opportunity to improve; it’s a signal that you should maybe look into a less demanding career, like mopping floors………..

In reading the article I found some people I have met and know.
I’ve actually heard someone say they had trouble writing because they felt like an impostor.
I haven’t heard them talk about writing anything in a long time.  Sad really, since they had gotten quite good.

The fear of being unmasked as the incompetent you 'really' are is so common that it actually has a clinical name: impostor syndrome.
This fear of being unmasked as the incompetent you “really” are is so common that it actually has a clinical name: impostor syndrome. A shocking number of successful people (particularly women), believe that they haven’t really earned their spots, and are at risk of being unmasked as frauds at any moment. Many people deliberately seek out easy tests where they can shine, rather than tackling harder material that isn’t as comfortable……

I’ve heard even some very driven seeming authors talk about their procrastination, and after reading this article wonder if this is what applies -
[Bolding / highlighting is mine]

…..“Work finally begins,” says Alain de Botton, “when the fear of doing nothing exceeds the fear of doing it badly.” For people with an extremely fixed mind-set, that tipping point quite often never happens. They fear nothing so much as finding out that they never had what it takes.  …..

I Really liked this part -  
All the highlight bolding is mine, since I think it is true that we, perhaps, have a whole different view of other writers.  Perhaps a bit of an unrealistic skewed one.   Especially the very published ones that we would like to join the ranks of.
And this is hard to consider when we are in the midst of our own struggles with words and characters and plot lines and all.

…..Students are rarely encouraged to peek at early drafts of those works. All they see is the final product, lovingly polished by both writer and editor to a very high shine. When the teacher asks “What is the author saying here?” no one ever suggests that the answer might be “He didn’t quite know” or “That sentence was part of a key scene in an earlier draft, and he forgot to take it out in revision.”  …..

So this part is very helpful to remember -
Again, bold highlighting is mine.  Because I probably do fall into this.

……“You never see the mistakes, or the struggle,” says Dweck. No wonder students get the idea that being a good writer is defined by not writing bad stuff.
Unfortunately, in your own work, you are confronted with every clunky paragraph, every labored metaphor and unending story that refuses to come to a point. “The reason we struggle with"insecurity,” says Pastor Steven Furtick, “is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”   …….

Boy, does this make sense!    Right?

I won’t say I resemble any of this, but I’ll just say I recognized some people I know.
Maybe some more than others.

You might find some too, so if you want to read the whole thing rather than just the few excerpts here’s the link 

Do you see anyone you know here?

Do you see yourself here?

Let me know and maybe we can help each other.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Books for Different Reasons

I thought everyone read different books for different reasons.

Apparently not.


I’ve heard some people read Only one genre, Only one author, Only… well, I’ll just put …etc…

I was recently asked questions that I didn’t have answers to.  Or good answers.  

I don’t have a Favorite author.   I know a lot of great writers so I have lots of favorites.  *Grin*

I pick up a book for many different reasons.
Sometimes I want to be entertained, so I want something fun and ‘ligtht.’
Sometimes it’s I want to see an author’s writing, or their take on their subject, or how well they do with it.  
There’s research reasons to pick up a book, all kinds, from wanting to know about something for curiosity reasons, to research for writing projects, or interviews, or…. Well, like I said, Lot of different reasons to read, a Lot of different books.

Come on, at some point doesn’t the pressure of the buzz of the new ‘it’ book ‘everyone’ is talking about make you curious about it?

I’m an eclectic reader. 

There are some books I really like.  For different reasons, of course.   Some I’m not sure exactly why.  I haven’t bothered to sit and even articulate it to myself.
I will at some point need to reread them to see if they are still going to be a fave.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts here - 
Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reason Why is a book I think Everyone should read.       If you read it come talk to me.   It’s …well, I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone.  So just read it.  And we’ll talk.

I like Steve Berry’s novels for his what if takes on history.   And his research and taking us ‘traveling with him.’
As a writer, if you get a chance to take his workshop he gives, especially if his wife is giving her session too - DO IT!

I like Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden novels for his … well, there are several reasons to like his books.  One of the things I admire, is you can pick them up anywhere in the series and you aren’t lost, you can enjoy reading the book even if you weren’t a part of it from the beginning.
You might not enjoy as much, maybe.  If so, I recommend starting with #12 Changes
Very action packed.   And makes you want to know more about these characters.
So I went back to the beginning, after reading the later most recent books, and got a whole different appreciation for the characters and his development of them and all their relationships with each other than I would have otherwise.
As a writer, I can admire all the clues and setups he did back in the previous books.   
Plus I hear he, and his wife, are really nice people.

I am still working my way through Patricia McKillip books for her wonderful descriptive writing.
I have bought all I have been able to get my hands on, and can stuff on my book shelves.
From what I’ve read, I will always make room for them somewhere.

I’m not sure all the reasons I exactly liked The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, Alison Anderson but I did.
So if you know why, let me know.

As mentioned in previous post, a recent favorite book is Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson

It’s also has become a favorite of my husband, and he hasn’t even finished reading it. 
We checked it out from library - Thank You Public Libraries!   
He even thinks we should buy it.  For those of you who know him, you Know what a Big recommendation that is!
So we will be buying it.   For many reasons.   It’s a compelling story.  Even though it’s in some ways a quiet type story.  It keeps you turning pages wanting to find out what happens.
But also, from a writer’s perspective, this book has Wonderful descriptions but she makes them do several different things, so the writing is not overtaken and bogged down by all the descriptions.   Multi-layered nuances.
As my husband put it, this book is a great example of How to Show instead of just telling.   The bane of writers everywhere.

So that’s my suggestion if you want to read a good book, and as a writer get some ideas of nuanced descriptive writing.

So, what are the books you like to read / are reading?    And why?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A New Year, Or Staying warm

Yeah, yeah.  What blog.     Certainly not what most would consider this broken down abandoned-lookng…….  Well, I’m sure you get it….   
So I’ll take the writer’s advice of ‘Don’t dumb down your reader” ….  
If there are any left….
Ok, so now that’s done I can dust my hands off and continue.   
 I will Try to do better with this.  Yeah, yeah, heard it before.          Well, I have lots of reasons, even some excuses I can dredge up I’m sure - more than enough to want to read.      I’ll just say that last year was rather a fast moving blur.  Especially the last half.  And don’t even talk about the holidays that tinsel wrapped itself around all my time and dragged me out.      We didn’t even get decorations up on the tree!!!!    Luckily it is one of those pre-lighted ones.  
Really, if not for notations all over our calendars I’m not sure what I would remember of last year.     Not that last year was bad necessarily just really, really busy.   Makes me tired now just thinking about it.
Course that could be helped along by All the COLD and SNOW we’ve been having.

Okay, Okay, I might just be a smidge grumpy.   And tired.  Did I mention that?

I am thankful that the electricity hasn’t gone off with all this snow and mess.  Not like inexplicable times before that!
So at least I’m not grumpy And cold right now.
Hey, things to be thankful for.

Another thing to be thankful for …. Altho’ come to think of it I think I Still haven’t caught up on sleep and not being tired…. I did get a bad cold …okay, I don’t remember how long ago it was, a few weeks.  I think.   That’s a blur too.   Not because of medications, but because I couldn’t sleep and breathe at same time.  So I chose to breathe.  I like to breathe you know.   So there I am sitting bleary eyed and trying to breathe a lot.  Of course I turned to my book piles.   It’s a great thing you know.   Of course not as great as when you aren’t sick and bleary eyed and trying to breathe a lot.  But helps take you mind off such things anyway.

I read some good books, some not so good -will-never-read-again ones, and some middling books, or ones that just don’t stand out as being really good, or really bad.   Is that a good thing or not?

One of the ones on the good side .. Or I guess I should say, some of the books on the good side is by Florence King, [another Virginian!], since I read and am reading a few of her books.
I enjoyed the humor so much in her When Sisterhood Was in Flower that I am rereading it in her book The Florence King Reader.    Which has a few of her stories in it.  I had read ‘Flower’ as a stand-alone book but since it’s in the ‘Reader’ book too, can’t help myself from reading it again.
This helps explain why a little… but not even by half.  

Briefly this scene - is preparation of 2 opposite ‘room’ mates - yeah, you must read how That happens.  And one cat, named by ex-boyfriend….  :::snicker:::  ….. moving…

“A few minutes later, or so it seemed, the alarm went off and it was time to get up.  I lurched like a beached seal and tried not to throw up; this was what Polly meant by “getting an early start.”  The room was pitch black.  For a moment I thought I had gone blind from shock, but then Polly switched on her light, swept back her blanket with a d’ Artagnan flourish, and rose.
Or she tried to.  Quadrupet was slung across her neck like a hairy albatross, determined to thwart what he knew was to be a violent uprooting.  She tried to push him away but he rolled over on her face and tried to smother her.  I waited hopefully, listening to the struggle.”

And you’ll have to read the book for the the rest of it.   Who survives, etc…. *Grin*

Trust me.  You’ll want to read it.  If you like to smile at all you will.   Which with the winter weather we’ve been having, don’t you want to?

By the way, writers might want to check out the book for her comments on editing her stories before they were republished here.  Even though she was considered a careful and tight writer when she first published them.

A book I read and still sticks with me, not for humor so much as ….well, I’m still thinking on that….
Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

But my fave book I’ve read ‘recently’ is   Major Pettigrew's Last Stand   by Helen Simonson

It does have humor.  A more ‘quiet’ humor than Florence King’s perhaps.  But it’s there.  As a writer though, the descriptions she uses……
Even my husband likes the book and says we should buy it.    For those who know my husband is there any higher praise?    
For those that don’t know him, he is Great, but he thinks I have too many books.  Course he does have tendency to mingle his books into my stacks somehow.  Or is that me reading some of the ones he bought? …. I do agree that We do need to go thro’ and decide on books…..  Which means I need to read more!!!! 
Alas, not today.  That ‘free’ time has gone to the making of this blog post.
I shall now drag myself on to doing other needed things.

Oh, and if you want me to follow you back on Twitter, do Not post about sitting out enjoying the warm sun and weather, writing.         No, I will not follow you back today.    Maybe on Thursday when we’re supposed to get warmer temperatures.