“Eighty percent of success is just showing up” — Woody Allen
There is a ton of truth in that. But you also have to be ready to be effective when you show up. Here’s a real life example from my life today as a case study in what not to do:
- 12 noon: Decide to work on Call of Trees, draft 6. Get out computer.
- 12:30pm: Spend half an hour reading older material that’s not related.
- 12:30pm: Stare at beginning of novel
- 1pm: Attach computer to screen so I can see both the edits from Gabrielle and my draft. Stare at novel.
- 1:30pm: Go tweet about something cute the dog does
- 2:45pm: Make myself stop reading cool stuff on the internet, realize I’m wasting time. Return to staring at beginning of novel.
- 3:30pm: Not making any progress, go make lunch and read
- 4:30pm: Stare at the novel more.
- 5:00pm: Realize that due to recent computer crash, I don’t have all my music on new laptop, but I do on this old computer. \o/ Try to move songs from one computer to another. Stare at novel while gigabytes of music get copied.
- 6:00pm: Quit wasting time re-creating playlists. Stare at the novel again.
- 6:30pm: Finally open a new document and start playing with re-writing the beginning.
- 7:30pm: Have something of a new beginning drafted.
- 8:00pm: Go watch my neighborhood try to blow up our street in celebration of July 4th.
- 9:00pm: Finish the draft of the new beginning
- 10pm, 11pm, 12am, tweak, tweak, and retweak until I’ve got something that sounds pretty good.
- 12:30am: start this blog post so I’ll remember to never do this again
So the moral of the story? Re-drafting beginnings sucks. It’s more fun to go surfing.
On a serious note, opening that blank file and starting to play with the opening sentences is what unblocked me. Typing in my new “first draft” sentences next to my current “draft 6” sentences in that existing, giant document was demoralizing. Having a blank scratchpad with nothing but my new sentences in it freed me to throw down crap until I got something good.
And now that I’ve started, I’m pretty excited about this last draft. After all, the novel’s written, so it’s all downhill from here. Right?