Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Procrastination: It's what's for dinner. Or breakfast.

I took a "small break" from writing after wrapping up my participation in a recent "Shootout" competition, and have been having the hardest time getting back into the discipline of writing.

Here's the quick bullet points about shootouts, for those who've never heard of one - keeping in mind this is just how the ones I've been in go:

  • 2-3 teams of writers, usually no more than 5 to a team
  • a prompt is released at the start of the week
  • every writer has the whole week to write a story on that prompt
  • the following week, each team receives the 5 stories from another team, with the names removed (this is to remove gamesmanship from the thing and focus on the stories)
  • stories are reviewed and 'scored' out of 10
  • the following week, a new prompt is released
  • at the end of 3 rounds, the highest cumulative score from each team goes on to the "finals"
  • the final round is also one week, and one new prompt
  • stories are usually a minimum of 2,500 - 3,000 words
This last time, which was my fourth shootout, I made it to the final round, which was awesome.

The upshot of all of this is that, in the course of 8 weeks, I did four stories, and about 40-50 pages of material. (My final 'short' story was 21 pages long.) Unfortunately, that was also back in April. 

Since then - nothing. I can't seem to get back into it.

There's been some real-life things that have taken up some time, but not all of it. There's been enough moments that I've said to myself, "See, I should be writing right now," that I could've been. 

As of now, I'm starting to get a little 'tappy-tappy' back as I think there's only 3 more days left to shape up on of those 4 stories for an anthology I want to submit to, but the allure of passive entertainment is strong right now.

So - my question to you - do you ever go through patches like this, and how do you get going again? 



  1. I've never done a shootout. Sounds like lots of fun! I'm trying to get back in the discipline of writing too. It's coming along and getting better each day. :) Making progress on my WIP definitely helps motivate me!

    1. Thanks Leigh! I've done enough of them now I could almost run one myself - but that would ALSO be procrastinating, as it's a tremendous amount of work for the facilitator. (Who was AWESOME.)

  2. My problem has always been that whenever I sit down to do some serious writing, my mind wanders to just about anything and everything unrelated to my WIP. And of course, when I'm at work or doing something else non-writerly, my mind is a flood of awesome and fantastic ideas.

    So, I bought a small pocket-sized notebook. And now, whenever I'm at work and my brain decides it wants to be a writer, I quick jot down the stream of words of ideas inside brief spurts of free moments. As an added bonus, these notes give me the perfect springboard for when I'm actually 'writing' writing - and focus my workflow.

    And I agree, shootouts sound like awesome good fun. At the same time, I also really don't need anymore distraction than I already have.

    1. Funny you mention notebooks. So far my only remedy to getting back to work is to give up the computer altogether and start using paper and pen. Fun fact: there is no Facebook in my notebook margins. The downside is that everything then needs to be transcribed - but I find that can be done on nights when I don't have anything new to say, but don't want to be totally lazy either.

  3. The allure of passive entertainment ... that's Homeland episodes for me!

    Congrats on your shootout - that sounds intense, so no wonder you're having troubles getting back into writing. I understand with the weekly challenge I did last year (grueling), and in fact, I'm in one right now with my novel editing. I only have 3 more chapters to go, but it's like walking through mud at this point.

    I think short little breaks are good, but don't go too long, or it'll just be that much harder to get back into it. I use times like this to do the things (pertaining to writer in one way, shape or form) that I want to do - more indulgent things, like researching fun topics, catch up on eMag publications, rereading some of my old stuff, and when I find that I can improve it still, that sometimes gives me the confidence I need to get back into it too. A few candles, a pentacle, sage stick, and some incantations won't hurt either : )

    Good luck, Chris.

    1. Thanks Erin. I just had a productive couple of days trying to whip a piece into shape to submit to ChiZine. Got to resist the urge to go back to sleep now that I've "finished" with that piece for now!