Just Do It

No, this is not an athletic shoes commercial. This is what I had to tell myself yesterday to get the job done, the “job” being the scene that’s hung over me for the past three weeks.

Sometimes the hardest part of getting the writing done is just getting started, going to the computer, and overcoming inertia. But lately, my main problem has been staying focused once I’m there. I did some more experimenting with mynoise.net, having decided that Brain.fm was not working well enough to be worth spending $6.99 for a one-month subscription.

My conclusion? Sometimes/it depends. Which soundscape I chose definitely made a difference; some were too bland to aid in focus, as they were mostly intended to be noise-masking. Others sounded great, but made me sleepy (one use for these sounds is in hypnotherapy practice). I might try listening as I’m reading before bed to help me go to sleep. But that’s not what I want to do at the writing computer. I really like the Ice World sound, but this is one of those. However, My Noise lets you combine sounds, and combining it with Ethereal Choir is great, and did seem to help with focus.

I met with three of my writer friends yesterday, and one of them was having focus trouble, too. We talked about what we do when we come to a scene we don’t want to write yet, whether because of mood or something else. “Toss it out” wasn’t discussed, although that’s a perfectly viable option when the scene isn’t really needed for the book. We were talking about those that were definitely needed.

I just skip the scene and move on to the next, as I mentioned in last week’s ROW80 update. One of my friends writes out of order, so that’s a no-brainer for her. It’s easy enough for me to do, as my sketch/outline tells me what happens in the next scene. But one of my other friends does the same thing, and she uses absolutely no outline. She and I both write our scenes in order otherwise. But my third friend said he absolutely can’t write out of order. Lucky for him, he doesn’t come upon this situation very often.

Yesterday, I still had not finished either of the two scenes I’d wanted to for today’s ROW80 update. But meeting with my writing friends is always fun and energizing (at least creatively), and I came home ready to tackle those scenes. I hit the later one first, and finished it without a problem. Then I played computer games for about an hour, procrastinating on that scene I didn’t want to write, until I finally realized I was not going to hit that goal for the third week in a row if I didn’t Just Do It.

So I went back to the writing room, fed the critters, and fired up mynoise.net with a combo of Ice World, Ethereal Choir, and Coastline. I don’t know whether it was the music/sounds, or my determination to just get it written, but it worked. Took about three hours, and 2500 words, but it’s done! 🙂

GodsSwindlersWhat I’ve been reading: I finished Gods and Swindlers by Laura Kirwan last Sunday or Monday. I love, love, love this series, about a fifty-something, non-magical lawyer who lives in a magical town and is the only thing standing between it and magical baddies. This one was a little slow at first, but still kept my interest, and only got better and better as it went (much like the previous two books in the series). I hope the next one is out soon, though I’m willing to wait.

One thing I’ve noticed as a reader is that I can’t tell if something was written fast or slow, in order or not, outlined or written into the dark. Nor can I tell whether the author revised and fixed as s/he went, or did a big revision (or multiple) afterward. A lot of people have strong opinions on these, particularly the speed and revisions, but IMO none of them matter. What’s important is that we do what works for us for that book, at that point in our knowledge of craft. And it can change. (FWIW, I am a nominal outliner, I mostly write in order, my speed varies greatly even within one book, and I am working toward fixing more as I write, and revising less because I don’t enjoy it.)

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: As noted above, I made my goal to finish both the scenes I was working on (barely)! So this week’s goal is to write the last scene (yes!), and then go back and fix the things I know are missing. As a bonus, I’d like to do the read-through and proofread, to get it ready for the beta readers.

What about you–when you read, can you tell anything about how the book was written? What do you do to get yourself to Just Do It when “it” is something you keep stalling on? If you’re a writer, do you ever write out of order, and how do you handle scenes you don’t feel like writing? How are you doing on whatever goals you may have, whether or not you’re a writer? Please share in the comments–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.


7 Responses to \

  1. Sounds like your writing style is a lot like mine. And I love the phrase, “just do it.” You are absolutely right; sometimes that’s all it takes. The getting started part. Now, keep it up.

    And it is true that readers have no idea what authors labor over. For instance, I once wrote a scene that was extremely emotional for me. I cried for the better part of an hour as the words gushed out of me. My critique partner wasn’t even phased by the scene. She could not believe that I struggled with that chapter. I guess it works in reverse, too. The whole process is amazing. As writers we can see both sides.

    Have a great week.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  2. MyNoise is great. I haven’t gotten around to doing much with it in the way of combining soundscapes, but I enjoy the ones they have. My favorite lately has been “number stations”…

  3. Yay for getting it done! Sometimes I will go back to favorite scenes and see if it motivates me, but mostly I like the just do it method. 🙂

  4. So glad you have a wonderful support group Jennette and that you pushed your muse to work! You amaze me with how much you get done. Whatever the process we just need to do it. Thanks for the encouragement! ((Hugs)) 🙂

  5. Patricia, so true. And thanks!

    John, I haven’t tried that one – I’ll have to check it out!

    Thanks, Coleen!

    Karen, I’m glad you found it encouraging!

  6. Pandora is my background noise. Since moving into my own place, I’ve found the TV is not on that much, and when it is, it’s almost always Pandora.

    As for how a story is written, it’s one of the reasons I never really liked the Tom Swifties meme all that much. “The character smokes a cigarette when the author does.” Really? How do you know that? I just assume the character smokes and imagine it’s Marlboros or Camels or something to that effect. How do I know when Stephen King is lighting one up? If anything, I’m pretty sure all his bad habits back in the day went on break while he was banging away on the keyboard. He might have had a cigarette dangling from his mouth as he typed, but so far, it seems like only Roland the Gunslinger smokes. It’s a silly meme and one I never really bought into.