Thursday, July 16, 2009

Stalling, Stalling, Wasting Time

By Nichole Giles

You know, sometimes I wonder how I ever get any writing done. I wake up in the morning, and run here, and there, and do this and that and before I know it, more than half the day’s gone and I haven’t even opened my computer yet. And then, when I do open it, the very first thing I do is check my email, scan a few blogs, check my email again, sign onto Facebook, check my email…

Eventually, though, I get around to opening my current work in progress.

This month, I took one of Tristi Pinkston’s challenges, and am attempting to add 25-30,000 words to my WIP by the end of the month. Hopefully, that’ll put me close to the end—if not all the way there. I’d really like to finish my rough draft of this so I can get to the good part—editing.

But when I finally open the document, I end up staring at the blank page for at least half an hour—not knowing what to write. So, I check my email again, scan blogs, log onto Facebook, edit work for other people, then get back to my document. I go on like this for most of the evening—taking time out to make dinner, talk to my kids, be a taxi, etc—until before I know it, it’s after 11:00 and I’ve only written half a page.

At this point, I look at my bed, then my computer, and generally end up playing einie meenie meiny moe between the two. But this month, because I really want to get this done, I work it so most of the time the computer wins the battle. I then take it downstairs away from my bedroom (so I’m not tempted to shut down and go to sleep) where I set up camp in the den and actually start writing. Sometime around midnight, I’ll find my groove, and by 2:00 a.m., I generally have either 1500 words or an entire chapter.

Then, I close my computer and crawl upstairs and into bed—satisfied that I’ve actually accomplished something with my day. Unfortunately, the cycle starts all over again the next morning, and I find myself wondering why I write best in the middle of the night when I should be sleeping?

Well, according to my fifteen-year-old son, the answer should be obvious. Sleeping hours are the most creative for our brains and just because I’m not lying down in my bed doesn’t mean my brain isn’t sleeping. Therefore, the majority of my work is probably more of an extended dream that has been intricately mapped out via words on a screen. And I—the author—am merely the vessel through which these brilliant and wonderful dreams are filtered.

So there you go. The answer to the one question we all get asked at least twice a day. “How do you know what to write?”

I guess I don’t! Really, it’s my brain being fed a dream as I sleepwalk through life. Whoda thunk?


David J. West said...

I keep the same writing hours you do. The daytime is just too busy what with killing snakes and all.

Melanie Goldmund said...

Whoa, for a minute there, I thought you were describing my writing life! But, yeah, funny that all my good ideas come just as I'm falling asleep, or in the middle of the night, when I am not inclined to leave my bed.

Nichole Giles said...

Yeah, I know. It's sort of sad, isn't it? But hey, at least I'm writing--not sleeping so much--but I'm writing!

And snakes? David, where do you live, snakeville? Eeeewwww! Not fun at all.


Ali Cross said...

LOl that's awesome.

I wish I could write at night, but I really can't. I write best in the middle of the afternoon. NOT a good time since I should be cleaning the house, running errands ...

But I guess it really does make sense if what you say is true ... I'm just ALWAYS sleepwalking through life, even if it is during the day!

Terresa said...

Love it -- my brain is being fed a dream as I write. I can't wait to read your novel writings!!

L.T. Elliot said...

I write best at night. In fact, one of my favorite quotes is:
"The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night."
--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Hey, I figure it gives me a great excuse when people ask my why I never go to bed on time. =]

Nichole Giles said...

Ali, there are days when I write in the afternoon, and when I stop to do something else, I feel like I'm sleepwalking. Go figure!

Theresa, believe me, I can't wait for everyone to read my novel writings! (Because, that would mean they are published!) Thanks.

Awesome, L.T., I love that quote. May have to print it and stick it to my computer.

David J. West said...

I live in the same town as you, I am up quite a ways on the mountain though-Grove Creek 8th ward.

The snake comment was refrence to my latest blog post. I wanted to be subtle, but I'm not. sorry

Nichole Giles said...

Okay, I thought I remembered you living nearby--glad to know I haven't completely lost my mind.

So...I missed that snake blog, I'll have to go read it now. And please, whatever you do--do not allow those snakes to come down the hill toward my house! (I can handle spiders and junk--just, please, oh please, not snakes!)

Cheri Chesley said...

Wow, this is so familiar. I'm up now, it's nearly midnight, and even though I'm facing a houseful of 6 kids to look after and two people to send on a road trip, I'm up. But I've accepted the fact I won't get any writing done today and closed my current works in progress.

I am a night person. I always have been. Trouble lately is, I have a morning gig. Work starts most days at 4:30am. And how on Earth two night people gave birth to 5 morning people I will never understand!

What has happened to me lately is I will have a cascade, or rush, of creativity--on the weekend--and get a lot done all at once. I have heard the experts say as long as you write a little each day, then you're writing. I just hope Facebook and blogs count in that. :)

Cassandra Jade said...

I tend to write better in the mornings but don't have the time because of the day job. But I usually wake up refreshed and ready to go. That said, I still need an hour to check email and read blogs or the like, and that's because writing cold never really works. If I don't spend this hour 'mentally preparing' myself (I am not wasting time) then I end up having to do a writing prompt exercise or something to get going anyway.
Whatever helps you get started.