Imagination in Progress

John Steinbeck

Anxiety #3

While the entire quote is profound, today’s (self-help) blog is about one part of this quote in particular. When I read it, it was like being punched in the gut and left breathless for a spell.

“Rewrite in process is usually an excuse for not going on.”

As uncommonly as my writing endeavor has stayed the course thus far – and to have one ironic or deja vu type situation occur after another – this quote found on today’s Facebook feed has to be the most haunting for me.

Just yesterday I spent a total of nine hours (9) reading and editing the eight chapters I’ve written so far. Granted, there were brief interruptions throughout the day and an unexpected phone call that took up about 40 minutes, but a majority of my Sunday was spent editing an incomplete work, and by the time I was ready to write more, it was nearing midnight and I was getting sleepy.

Yesterday seemed like a productive and yet wasted day. It irked me to be spending so much time cleaning up my work when I should be writing it instead.

I do this all the time, though. I’ve always done it this way.

Every day that I open my writing in Word, I start by re-reading what I’ve written and make changes before going on with more writing. Not always as much time as it took to do yesterday, but still, it’s a force of habit that I never gave a second thought to and actually believed it was a great way to work – by saving time having to go over 30 or 25 chapters and instead just edit as I go along.

I do take notes, jotting down ideas before going to bed so that they’re not forgotten, and I usually awaken with new ideas that need to be penned as well lest they, too, fall by the wayside.

I’ve also never completed any of my novels.

Never.

In another article I mentioned my having had 17 stories in-progress in a Personal folder on desktop, and that after browsing through all of them, I narrowed the field down to a select few for polishing and finish. Unfortunately, after starting to rework one story, I ended up picking another from that pile because something occurred to me at once and I just had to go to that other story and write it all down.

From there, I chose the third saved story and decided this is the one. This is the story that I can actually present to a publisher for consideration. I just know it has potential and that people would enjoy reading it.

I’m working on that novel right now, btw. But, I’m doing it the way I’ve always done it. The way our Mr. Steinbeck says is wrong and futile, and with no hope of it ever being finished if I keep doing it that way.

When I mentioned earlier about it being an uncommon adventure thus far, I meant that in all the years I’ve been writing, 2014 is a do-or-die year. A bit like someone who decides to quit smoking or drinking. A cold turkey endeavor to FINISH my work AND actually dare to submit it to a publishing house.

I am determined to succeed at this quest, and even to the limited extent of simply finishing a work – actually typing THE END for once. Sending it off to a publisher would be the icing on this literary cake, and to have it accepted would be to add the cliche cherry on top.

When I write, the negative imp in my head always starts to cackle and then begin with a tirade of awful remarks that are meant to fill me with self-doubt and to make me want to bow out even before I’ve really started. This year I finally chose to get along with it as opposed to ignore or dismiss it entirely. That snarling imp actually comes in handy when editing rolls around. That sounds stupid. What was the point of this scene? Can you hear how difficult that sentence is to comprehendand No. Just delete that entire paragraph. It’s horridactually help when in edit mode. Just not so much while writing. Then, the pesky imp needs to go out for a few beers or watch something sporting on television and leave me the hell alone.

It doesn’t, though. The nagging imp is always with me, and most of the time he wins out over the practically non-existent positive voice of reason hiding somewhere deep within the frozen recesses of my mind. Mr. Positive needs to wake up soon and start kicking some serious negative imp butt.

Or, perhaps he has and I don’t realize it yet?

Wanting to write AND get published has never been more strong a goal for me, and neither has my desire to see it accomplished. The imps are welcome to stay and do battle, but only if it helps me to achieve this goal.

Now … do I take John’s word for it and just open my novel in Word today and hit the END button first this time? Not even re-reading the last paragraph to refresh my mind about where it was that I left off?

Honestly, that sounds so … terrifying … to me. But then aren’t a lot of the ruts or habits we’ve acquired over the years like this? I call them comfort zones, and it’s never pleasant when that zone is somehow violated or made to change. And yet Mr. Steinbeck could be right and my habit of re-reading/editing as I go could be the main stumbling block to finishing a work.

I’m going to give this one a whirl and see if it doesn’t help (or hinder) my progress toward my 2014 goal.

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About RaineBalkera

Aspiring Author of Romance
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6 Responses to Imagination in Progress

  1. I do that, too. Spend all my writing time reviewing, to get ready to write, then end up editing. Time up. I will try Steinbeck’s method next time.

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    • RainMosq says:

      Thank you, Joan. I did what I promised and opened my story – did the ctrl/end thing – and ONLY read the last paragraph of what I wrote. I knew right away where I left off and just started to write. I got the caffeine style jitters at first, but I’m over that now. A new sense of freedom I think.

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  2. On The WritePath says:

    Reblogged this on WritePath Consulting.

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