I’m stalling. Again. Or still, depending on the definition of stalling.
Either way, I am not writing.
Sure, I’m writing here and on Quarks and Quirks. I’m responding to emails, engaging in online chats, and checking in on Facebook far too often. But several months after mapping out a larger project, I remain mired in the getting started process. Call it writer’s block if you like, but I think that’s dressing it up. I’m fighting the discipline of writing with a single focus for more than the thousand words I regularly pound out on my blogs. I’m resisting sinking into a topic and letting it get messy. At the same time, my younger son slogs away at NaNoWriMo, attempting to produce at least 10,000 words in the month of November and create his first novel. The irony of raising such a dedicated child while floundering myself is not lost on me.
In order to stall just a bit longer, I’ve decided to outline my recent tactics here. Perhaps I’ll exorcise a few demons along the way.
- Wonder where to start. I’ve pondered this in the shower, while driving, and before going to sleep. A certain amount of thinking seems prudent, but I crossed the line from prudent to inertia some months back.
- Create a timeline. Initially, this was a useful step. Sticky notes of themes placed on a timeline proved a valuable start — six months ago. I place the timeline with notes on the wall next to the computer, and watched them start to fall off. In a fit of desire to preserve these plans, I spent way too much time trying to convert them to digital sticky notes on Corkulous. Between notes disappearing and other technical foibles, I ended up with nothing usable and a good deal of time wasted.
- Meet with my creative endeavor inspiration. This is never a waste of time and isn’t a true stall tactic. While we write in different genres and with entirely different end goals, I find my greatest encouragement from our periodic meetings. The chemistry works. It is time, however, for me to bring a bit more product to our table during our coffees together.
- Search for the perfect writing platform. This is my most recent stall tactic, and it has eaten hours out of my potential writing time lately. I want what doesn’t exist, at least yet: a seamless way to write on either my Mac or my iPad on the latest version of my work that, while writing, does not require an internet connection. I’m bounced from Mac to iPad during the day, depending on the needs of my kids’ online homeschool classes and other homework, but I prefer to write at the Mac. Pages disappoints (not compatible with Dropbox when going from iPad back to iMac), and the iCloud doesn’t offer a fix for that yet. A few independent platforms offer apps for both iPad and iMac, but most don’t allow for automatic updates on one device to show on the other device. For now, I’m using Google Docs, although I’d rather find something that allows me to work even when I’m without internet.
- Check Facebook. Another downside of Google Docs is the distractions that come when writing online. It’s way too easy to click the Facebook tab that seems to remain open when I least need distractions. Am I playing tons of scrabble or commenting on too many posts? I’m stalling.
- Look for more books about writing. This one feels virtuous. After all, reading about the writing process should aid me in my writing endeavor. To a point, yes. But the writing about writing shelf is full. Research has its place, but I’ve likely overindulged in this form of it.
- Tweak my Pandora stations. No, I don’t write better when doing that. I don’t write very well listening to any music with words. That doesn’t stop me from trying. Often.
- Answer email. Hey, the chime tells me a new one is there, and it may be important, after all. Another reason to switch to a full screen dedicated writing platform.
- Blog. Yeah, it’s writing. Lately, it’s been writing to play with ideas for my larger project. It can become a stall technique, however. Like today.
- Refill my coffee, find a snack, clean the toilets, move the laundry, plan curriculum for the boys, run an errand, plan to run an errand, phone a friend, text a buddy, consider exercise, pay the bills, read the paper…You get the idea.