Northern Mummy

General thoughts and wittering about all sorts of things

Preparation or procrastination?

on June 11, 2012

It’s Day 5 of the Great Writers Series and the word is Prepare.

The point Jeff Goins is making today is that often, when we think we’re preparing something, we’re actually just putting it off.  This is very true of me in just about every aspect of life.  For example, yesterday we took a step forward in the on-going project of making our house nicer.  It’s on-going, because in the 7+ years we’ve lived here, we’ve never managed to get every room the way we want it simultaneously.  This time last year, after a huge blitz which took up the whole of the May half-term holiday, all the rooms were looking lovely (except for the two girls’ rooms, which were their usual bomb-sites) but there were one or two things we still wanted to do, especially in the dining room.  Last week we decided to get rid of the old, never-used sofa bed in the Butterfly’s room (one of the new living room sofas can be made into a bed, which is a much better place to have a spare) and replace it with some storage for her toys, in the hope that we might soon be able to see the floor again in there.  The desired result is that the room will be a nicer place for them to play, as well as having the additional benefit of a much less horrifying sight for visitors as soon as they reach the top of the stairs.  So we offloaded the sofa onto a grateful friend and today I went to IKEA to seek out suitable storage.  Whilst there, I passed some shelving that we’d intended to get for the dining room once we’d got rid of the old, never-used desk-top computer and its desk (you might be able to see a pattern developing at this point), and realised we’d actually embarked on a completely new project without finishing the old one.

Southern Daddy and I keep agreeing that we’ll be able to do something, once we’ve done the something else which makes it possible, but the fact is we just need to get on and do it.  Yes, there is an order required in making space before we move in the new furniture, but ultimately if we keep sitting and talking about it and making lists of what needs to be done, we’re not preparing for the changes we need to make, we’re just procrastinating.  So it is, says Jeff, with writing.  If we are not making visible improvements, receiving positive feedback and gaining momentum, the things we call preparation are actually procrastination.  I definitely feel this way about some of my work, which I open up from time to time and tweak a little, but know that it will still be essentially the same, with essentially the same gaps and unsatisfactory bits as there were before.  The answer, according to Jeff’s post for today, is a four point procedure:

Ship something

Get feedback

Make it better

Repeat

… and guess what?  Today’s challenge is to ship it.  I’d like to do this, somehow, with the novel I’ve been working on all this time.  It would be good to get feedback on it, and maybe a fresh perspective on how the holes could be sewn up or filled, and the unsatisfactory bits improved.  The problem is that it currently stands at an insane 98,000 words, so you’ll be relieved to know that I’m not planning on pasting it into this blog.  I have a couple of other ideas about how I might do this, though, so I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime I still have today’s challenge to complete, to make sure I’m not stalling.  As luck would have it, during Saturday’s writing session I finished the short story I began last week.  I was quite surprised to have completed it so quickly (I have to say that having a definite time set aside to do it helped, as did some of the tips from the part of Love Writing I have already read) and said as much to Fiona, who immediately said she’d like to read it.  I thought there was no time like the present to start sharing (I think the more I go at something, the more secretive and dissatisfied I get with it) and emailed her a copy.  So, I have “shipped something” and I hope that counts!

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2 responses to “Preparation or procrastination?

  1. fionamerrick says:

    It definitely counts – and I loved it! You have such a gift with short stories – you devise plots that lend themselves so well to the genre, and the balance and length of what you write is perfect. Perhaps you could submit one to our friend Good Housekeeping…? 🙂 Well done too with the housework – we’ve been doing the same this week. I look forward to hearing about the destination of the novel, too! xxx

  2. Alice says:

    That is excellent Helen – it’s no surprise to me that Fiona says it was good. Well done for persevering and finishing the story too – that’s not procrastination.

    Oh, and five years in our house I can totally relate. Urgh!

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