Last night I started writing the intro to the third chapter of my book. Then I got interrupted and wasn’t able to come back to it. There was a 50/50 chance, I knew, that I might forget what I was working on. Fortunately, it seems to have stuck with me.
Don’t you hate it when you have an idea and you can’t write it down, and then you lose it? I’m serious when I say I’ve probably written dozens of books over the years…in my head. I have to work on the “writing it down” part.
I actually dreamed the entire plot of a novel back in 2003. It was Thanksgiving weekend and I woke up with the entire thing in my head, from start to finish. And oddly enough, I’ve never forgotten the plot. It’s as fresh today as it was back then. One of these days I’m going to write it out and publish it.
I confessed to my coach last week that I was frustrated with my book’s outline. I need to prepare the first four chapters to submit to a agent. From my perspective, the first four chapters are the least interesting, and yet they’re absolutely critical.
My coach stepped in and pointed out that by subtly changing my viewpoint, I can make those dull chapters more interesting. It was almost too simple. All of a sudden I looked at my outline with a new set of eyes. I didn’t need to rewrite the outline or change things around in the book–I just needed a new approach.
I ordered a book last week and it arrived on Thursday. I’m almost done with it, and so last night I ordered another one so that I have a new book to start when I finish this one. They’re both business books by Alan Weiss and Marshall Goldsmith. (This is the third book I’ve read by Weiss and the 4th is due to arrive next week) The book I’m writing is nonfiction, and it centers around a philosophy I developed. Reading their books helps me to get my own book done.
I don’t think reading falls into my procrastination trap. I think this is more like research. However, I do find that I get lost in the books, to the extent that I’ve devoured several hundred pages in a few weeks. (I can read fiction much faster; nonfiction requires a different area of my brain, which is why I developed my own personal writing process)
On the one hand, I have tons of new ideas floating around my head. On the other hand, I haven’t done as much writing as I should have.
As it turns out, all of the distraction had a positive effect on the book today. All of a sudden, as soon as I opened my pink notebook and grabbed my pink pen, the words started flowing forth in a torrent of pink ink.
I really think that there is something different that comes with writing nonfiction as opposed to fiction. I was discussing this with an author friend of mine today. He didn’t understand what I was saying when I said that this book is harder than writing a novel, and then I drew the comparison of trying to write a 250+ page essay or research report. That’s essentially what I’m doing. And then he understood.
Oddly, though, I think that taking time to work on fictional pieces and writing articles and working on my blog and posting to Twitter have all helped. There is a subtle shift from fiction to Twitter to my blog to articles to the nonfiction book, and so doing those things together allow my brain to shift gears from fiction to nonfiction.
This isn’t procrastination–this is the writing process!