Friday, July 11, 2008

Preparing or procrastinating?

When I'm getting ready to immerse myself in writing, I spend a lot of time doing things like:
* "clearing the decks" -- doing stuff like cleaning and doing other things I've put off that need to be attended to;: answering hard emails, paying bills, doing errands
* organizing my apartment
* decorating my apartment

Some of this really DOES help with writing, I think -- there is something about that tidy, everything's-in-order feeling that's very organizing and calming....and decorating is so much fun that while I'm doing it I do often think of good ideas. But it can also degenerate into pure procrastination and sublimation.

Filling this goldfish bowl is on the borderline:

I've been wanting to get a real goldfish, but that would be really mean: the bowl is too small. Buying a fancy fish tank would not be a good use of either time or money right now. So, filling this with 8 glass fish (the little red things) and a rubber goldfish seemed like a good compromise.

Going on from there to painting my bedroom, reupholstering a chair, or any number of other projects that suddenly seemed very tempting, would be over the line.

The other thing on my mind about writing this week is how much detail to go into.....a lot of kids have told me that they love how detailed my writing is; adults have said that they find it TOO detailed. I know sometimes it is -- what I really need to do, I think, is write it in as much detail as I want to and take out the clutter later. Thoughts? At what point in the writing process do you start editing?



JenFW said...

Oh, Libby, I am right there with you. Clearing the decks is helpful, and somewhat necessary, but it's easy to cross the line into procrastination. Re-covering a chair--that's on my to-do list, too, but I'm actually painting my dining room table.

In terms of when to start editing, I've found through the NaNoWriMo experience that I prefer to storm (or lollygag) my way through a first draft before allowing much editing. When I decide to make a sharp turn, I just make it and keep moving forward, knowing I can straighten the road out in later passes.

But that's me. It works any way you do it, so long as you do it.

Go, Libby, go!

Mary Lee said...

On the subject of the goldfish bowl...I kept two generic, pet store goldfish in a one-gallon glass bowl (no pump or aeration) for years. One of the pair lived for TWELVE years! I'm not making this up. Keep the water clean and don't over-feed them.

Elaine Magliaro said...


Reading your post brought to mind a poem by Billy Collins entitled "Advice to Writers," which begins like this:

"Even if it keeps you up all night,
wash down the walls and scrub the floor
of the study before composing a syllable.

Clean the place as if the Pope were on his way.
Spotlessness is the niece of inspiration."

The poem can be found in Collins's book SAILING ALONE AROUND THE ROOM.

Libby Koponen said...

Thank you all --

Jen, I agree. Getting through it, THEN is the way to do it -- and probably the only way to get to the end! Maybe with this post I was asking permission to clean up/take out later, you gave it: thank you!

Mary, great idea, I'm getting a goldfish. Pictures to come. Thank you.

Elaine, "the neice of inspiration," what a great line. Thank you!