When you’re thrashing around in the dark water of an early draft with both hands clenched around the neck of a serpentine swirl of recalcitrant prose—in other words, deep in rewrite—suddenly doing things like blogging, or checking Facebook, seem terribly important.
There’s a technical writing term for this. It’s called procrastination.
Some people pretty it up by putting “creative” in front of it. Many words just sound better with “creative” in front of them. Here are some; creative tension, creative license, creative differences. Like them, procrastination sounds somehow more planned and more acceptable when it’s “creative procrastination.”
I sometimes indulge in true creative procrastination. This is when I know that I’ve got to work something out, and I can’t do it all consciously. So I wash dishes or pull weeds or go for a walk. Okay, I usually go for a walk. And that walk is likely to involve the purchase of a coffee drink. And while I’m doing those activities, I’m working hard mentally, developing and discarding solutions, trying to fit pieces together, trying to spin the story to change its trajectory, developing a motivation for someone. Usually in two or three days I wake up with an answer.
That’s not the kind of procrastination I’m indulging in now.
I’ve hit a large section of what is known as “back-story.” It’s important that the reader learn certain things about my main character and that they do it by seeing him in action, not by hearing it from someone. This is, however, a large section, and it slows down the momentum of the book. I figure I need to cut about seventy-five percent of it.
I don’t want to.
It isn’t that it’s deathless prose. It’s just that figuring out which is the twenty-five percent that gets to stay is really, really difficult. I don’t want to face it.
In my spare time, I have to choreograph a fight scene in a small deserted train station.
Hmm . . . I don’t believe I’ve updated my Facebook Status recently. It would be irresponsible of me not to. Guess I’ll just pop over there for a while.