Wednesday, 5 December 2012

IWSG: Getting Going

For this month's Insecure Writers Support Group I wanted to talk about getting yourself going on your writing or editing. The actual 'okay now is my writing time, I am going to sit down and write' part.

I have no trouble with this when it's a first draft. The character shouts and me for their story to be told. The tale permeates my brain, so much so that I cannot wait for spare time when I can Get The Draft Out.

At the moment I am editing, and editing is a different story (ha!), for me. I enjoy editing, for me it is where the magic happens, where it starts to really take its shape. It is satisfying to wrestle those awkward words into submission.

But I find it hard to sit down and start. I find it harder to squeeze this into the odd spare hour, for a start, I need a good amount of time to sit and focus, so that's one consideration. But I find myself having trouble getting going. I get easily distracted by the internet, or by jobs to be done. I make excuses.

Then I have trouble getting started on the actual edits, even when I know what has to be done.

I think it is because there's more pressure. With the first draft, the aim is to get the story out and tidy it up later. I can be free to just write.

With the tidying up later, there's more pressure. I worry that I can't get it to be how it is in my head. My metaphors are still clunky, the voice still needs to be brought out more. What if I never get it there?

But each edit takes us closer, and eventually the sum of the parts hopefully adds up.

But it's a curious thing that on each session as I sit down, I have trouble getting going on it. Does anyone else have any trouble like this? How do you motivate yourself or get started or make that first change?

Interested to hear!


  1. I sometimes find it hard to 'allow myself' the time to sit and absorb myself into the process. Like you I need a good period of time to really focus and when this isn't possible I find reasons to procrastinate. A few more hours in the day would be good! Once I'm into it though you probably have to drag me away from the computer!

  2. I think we all face that problem from time to time, but the only thing I've come to find is that there is really no easy way around this. There's no trick or shortcut—you just have to knuckle down and put your butt in that chair. I've reached a point where I can be honest with myself and recognize when I'm giving in to Resistance and dodging work. And the only way to tackle it is to put on my big boy pants and get it done.

    A routine can help, if you have the kind of schedule that lets you set one. I'm at the point where I know if I'm not writing by 10:00 on my work days, I'm in procrastination territory, whether there's a dishwasher full of dishes or not.

    Good luck!

  3. I think I'm the opposite from you! Some days it's an effort to even open up the document and get going. With editing/revising, at least I KNOW I have that baseline to work from, and it's easier for me to just sit down and do it.

  4. For me, I had a friend hold me to very strict deadline to which he would read the book at the end. Sometimes we need outside factors to influence us and push us harder. If you need me to be your warden for finishing it, I will. And I'm not gentle! ;)

  5. J.A. - ooh that's a good idea! I might take you up on it! My aim is one revision through by end of 2012 - we'll see how that goes!

    Thea - ah interesting! It's funny isn't it what different people find delays them.

    JW - thanks, that's good advice and what I needed to hear today - just get on with it! You are right!

    Suzanne - yes I need to really sit and focus and sort out a chunk of time. Maybe I just need to sort a routine and stick to it, one that allows a bit of time to sit!

  6. I have this trouble too! I also feel like I need more time to gather my thoughts and get the big picture in my head in order to edit.

    Allison (Geek Banter)

  7. Unfortunately, I'm the opposite - I have to really force myself to get down that first draft, because I work so much better when I can see what I'm doing. (Which is why NaNo and BuNo are perfect for me - they force me to write.) Maybe setting a revision goal for the month and asking someone to make you accountable?

  8. I have the reverse problem - it's like squeezing juice from a banana peel to get the first draft done. After that, I can edit for hours on end. If it wasn't for critique partners, I wouldn't be as far along on some things as I otherwise would be. :)

  9. I'm the world's worst at revising. *looks away* Yeah, I've got two novels sitting on the computer waiting for revisions. Do you think that would be motivation to open up their documents? Nope. When you get some good advice, pass it along. :)

    I like J.A.'s advice, get a "warden" to hold you accountable.

  10. For me it is the other way around. Writing the first draft I need more time to get into it, I can't simply sit and write in 30 min slots. I need hours and concentration. The editing is a hard work I really enjoy and I can do anywhere for as short or as long time as I have. I have no trouble getting to it and I think that is because I feel the story is getting better, clearer not only in the pages but in my mind. Before was all muddled and that confused me... So funny how we are all so different.

    Good luck and happy holidays!

  11. My motivation lately has dwindled because I have been grading crap and I just can't bring myself to be around words for a few days. However, I just have to remember that every day I don't work is another day I'm falling away from my goals instead of working toward them.

    I also tell my husband when I'm feeling less than motivated and he reminds me that this is what brings me joy, and I need to really be working on it when I'm not noble enough to motivate myself :)

  12. Oh, yeah, I used to suffer from the "I'll just ease into this--OMG how did the whole hour slip by!!!" But then, necessity drove it out of me. I had a kid, and I HAD to get my work done. There was nothing for it, every spare minute got stuffed into a project, cause that's all the kid would give up.

    Lucky for me, some of those habits outlasted the bottle phase...

  13. Your process sounds a lot like mine. The first draft is SO FUN. Then, the work begins *sigh*

  14. very difficult to get motivated! and wish i could take big chunks of time!
    i set goals. must be done by such & such date. that helps me get on it.

    keep at it!!

  15. Yes! I absolutely struggle with this. You're right - it's the pressure of getting it right. Good luck with the editing ;)

  16. It's hard for me. I often have to sit down, mentally tie my butt to the chair, turn off WiFi and just go until my creativity decides to bud. Through discipline I'm able to get that creativity out, but it isn't always there from the get-go.

  17. Allison - glad I'm not alone!

    Alex - interesting that it works the other way for you. I think being accountable to someone is a good suggestion thank you.

    David - interesting and hurrah for critique partners.

    Candilynn - yes a 'warden' seems a popular suggestion! Good luck with your revisions!

    Georgina - thank you for the good luck wishes and am interested to hear it's the other way round for some people!

    Tasha - aw getting your husband's encouragement is a good idea! :)

    Tara - I wish I had big chunks of time too. Goals seems a good idea!

    Kim - thank you. It IS the pressure isn't it? How to avoid worrying about that.

    Randi - discipline is key I think. It is butt in chair time isn't it!

    Jenn - hee, yes then the work starts!!!

    Rena - interesting to hear that necessity made you change your writing habits.

    thanks EVERYONE for sharing your thoughts!

  18. I can't stand first drafts! Ugh. I totally prefer revisions and editing, LOL.

    And thanks for signing up for the Cheers, Cavanaugh Blogfest! I'm so stoked you're participating. It's going to be fabulous! :D

  19. Oh man, I'm the same way. It takes me so long to get motivated for major rewrites. It's taxing in a big way and by the time I'm in the zone, I've lost a good 30min of revision time. That's a lot when time is limited. I need to go to a hotel for 3 days and do nothing but write/revise. Wouldn't that be nice?? Hubby would never go for that. lol

    BTW thanks for stopping by my blog with warm wishes. :)

  20. I like the first draft and editing, but you're right - it's so tricky to actually find the time to sit down and do it. :)

  21. Morgan - no worries, I enjoyed joining in!

    PK - no problem and glad I am not the only one! I too would like a few set days to write!

    Nicole - it is tricky!!

  22. Ugh. I can so relate to this--I'm editing now, and it's _hard_. But you know what? We have a finished piece of work to polish--not everyone gets that far, so I try to remind myself to be happy that I'm at this stage.


Please comment, I'd love to know what you think! :)