I was one of those annoying students who would put things off to the last minute, yet aced them anyway when it came to writing. Chemistry, not so much, but writing, oh, I could procrastinate that to the night before! One particularly brilliant example was my junior year of college. Now, I went to a fairly small liberal arts school, but there were some real gems in our English department. I was taking a class that centered around the craft of memoir, and our big project was a 25 page or more memoir of our own. The rough draft was due about a month prior to finals, to be graded based on progress, and basically to make sure you did something. I wrote all 25 pages we needed to turn in over the course of about 6 hours the day before it was due, submitted it to the professor through the online tool we used, and figured that it was meh, but workable as a rough draft.
Come the next class, he pulls me aside really quickly beforehand, and asks if he may use mine as an example, because I nailed the kind of narrative exposition he was really looking for on these projects better than anyone else. I laughed, and agreed, because why not? When asked in class how I’d learned that style, I admitted that I blogged via a journal site, and so telling stories via the focused narrative was nothing new to me. He made the mistake, however, of then asking how long it took.
For a moment, I considered lying and saying I’d been working on it since the assignment was given out. I knew that was more the sort of answer that was expected. At least a week, would have been pushing it even.
I couldn’t resist telling the truth. If looks could have killed, my classmates would have murdered me on the spot.
The professor was utterly flummoxed, and looked at me like I’d just told him there was a pot of gold at the end of the skittles rainbow, and that it was landing in his backyard. When he finally managed to pick his jaw up off the floor, he said, “Follow her example on the writing, not the procrastination.”
I know I can write well quickly, especially if I have a plan of attack, or at least a flow I can follow start to finish. Yet with my own fiction, it’s so hard to find those deadlines. Even things like Nanowrimo end up lacking, once you’ve done them too long. While the community pressure is great, if you slip out of the community too much, it’s easy to let that pressure slip too.
Sometimes, you get to a point, where you have to find your own deadlines, and make yourself responsible for them. Things like #pitchmadness and #writemotivation are oddly helpful for me, because I see things I enjoy, and things I don’t, and the ones that I don’t enjoy are pushing me to get my own writing into shape. There were 6 total in #pitchmadness that I was dying to read, 1 of which was KT’s, which I’ve been reading and editing, another of which was Becca’s, which I did get to read some of, and will get to read the rest eventually. The other 4, I couldn’t track down their owners, as they were given just numbers. (If you’re B7, B14, S12, or C13 on #pitchmadness, I WANT TO KNOW WHO YOU ARE! Because I want to read your book!!!)
What motivates you? Deadlines? Seeing other’s succeed? Seeing things you don’t like? What makes you put the words on the page?