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Letting off steam

October 16th, 2012 Matt Leave a comment Go to comments
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It’s amazing how quickly time passes isn’t it? After a period of editing my work in progress I have just dusted off my word count spreadsheet for this year. I want to cry.

I expected to be doing so much better than I am, but I just hadn’t realised how long this project had been stuck in editing limbo. It looks like I will have written fewer words than I did last year. I thought I was doing better, but it turns out I’m doing worse.

face palm

“My spreadsheet says whaaat?” Actually, that is not me. That is hobvias sudoneighm, who is much better looking than I.

Worse‽ How can I be doing worse? By any measure you care to think of I have not even got started at this, and already it’s worse than I thought. Frankly the whole sorry attempt looks pathetic in the extreme.

I know what it is. I hate this editing thing. Not the process as such, but the lack of motivation and the terrifyingly slow speed of it all. It’s so easy to lose focus – to potter about, wring your hands over how you’re going to fix things.

And with nothing to put on a spreadsheet, it’s so easy to skip a day or two, give yourself a break. When writing a first draft, that spreadsheet keeps me going – I look forward to putting something in it. I can work out my writing pace and see what it would take to beat it; put word count targets into Scrivener and see the congratulatory popup.

I’m retreading old ground a little here, but editing just doesn’t have that kind of immediate reward.

Now I’m looking at week after week of blank rows on my spreadsheet and wondering what the [expletive] I was doing that whole time.

I know the fix of course, which makes it worse.

  • Check in to the spreadsheet on a regular basis
  • Set goals for when you want your editing to be halfway through, finished
  • Never stop writing something new.
  • This was all part of the plan of course, but I managed to forget it, so here we are.

    bored gorilla

    “I should be editing, but this tub is so comfortable” Image courtesy of Chris Devers.

    So I hope you’ll forgive me for stamping my feet a bit and getting some things off my chest. Hopefully the self-rage will give me a kick up the arse.

    But hope’s never worked before, so after a few deep breaths I guess I should do something practical. And the key thing here is looking in on my spreadsheet. Time has a way of getting away from you (and by you, I mean me), and I have a method to objectively check my progress, so I should use it!

    So I will book time with myself. It’s going in my diary for a Tuesday morning (I run on Mondays now).

    I know to some it will seem silly to schedule it like that – why not just do it? But I need every tool I can use to habitualise (that’s possibly a made up word) things or they don’t happen. If I could just do it, I would have already, no?

    Consider me picked up and dusted off then. Onwards!

    Over to you:
    Right, consider this your bitching space! We all need to let off steam occasionally. Let’s just call it part of the healing process or whatever, but we can at least get the negative stuff out of the way then and move on with our lives. So, wail, gnash teeth below. Knock yourself out!

  • Craig

    Ugh, basically, I need a machine that directly transcribes my thoughts onto the screen. I know technically, I have my hands for that, but a lot of the time, some filtering problem occurs and what ends up on the screen is nowhere near as good as what was in my head.

    A long time back, I did actually try out one of those auto-dictation things. The problem with those is you have to speak slowly, in full on RP. Not too good for those of us with broad regional accents.

    So yeah, that is my gripe.

    • http://getmewriting.com Matt Roberts

      Well we could all do with that! Although I sometimes feel like our internal thinking suffers from some of the reality-checking malfunctions that dreams suffer from.

      A lot of the time, the things that make an idea really great in our heads are the nebulous internal things like personal associations and emotional reactions – they’re completely stripped when you note out the idea on a page. Instead you have to rebuild a new set of associations through a novel to bring it up to that standard.