Writing Life: The Secret Project

Last week I wrote about going through SPLAT, but before I could face my own personal splat, I had a few questions for it. Like why were my procrastination and resistance so hard core around the rewriting of Book Three?

The answer came to me Sunday morning. Expectations. My own high expectations and the expectations of my publisher, my friends, my family, and my fans. Writing the next book in a series isn’t easier, at least not to me, and for some reason I thought it would be. It’s much harder. There’s an absence of freedom around it due not only to all the expectations, but also the pressure deadlines.

by Gizem Vural

I compared my lack of enthusiasm while writing Book Three to the complete joy I experienced working on my new book Intergalactic. No one, not even myself, had any expectation around Intergalactic. It was a complete experiment. A NaNo even. There were no deadlines but my own, no eyes waiting to tear into it, or tear it apart, it was a secret from the entire world.

I’m not a fan of working on more than one novel at a time, especially in this case. I know Intergalactic could easily steal my attention away from my Book Three rewrite. But I decided to try a little experiment. What if I worked on another kind of writing as a warm-up each day? A creative essay? A poem? A song? A short story? Write for the sheer joy and pleasure of writing, with no strings attached, to get me into my writing mode.

And you know what? It worked! Over the past three days I’ve dabbled in a “secret” creative project, worked on some songs, and drafted a creative essay and was so elated to be doing so that when I turned to my Book Three rewrite, I was in a much happier space.

From that space I knew I could tell this story. I was still creative. I did not forget how to write overnight.

Perhaps you, too, are procrastinating to the page because of your own expectations. Maybe you’re afraid of imperfection, maybe you have a lack of confidence. Whatever the reason, perhaps this little experiment will work for you as well. When you’re up against splat, try warming up by writing creatively in another form just for pleasure, to remember why you write in the first place.

The trick is not to use the “secret project” as an excuse not to work on your novel or to procrastinate even more. What I do is set my timer for 20-40 minutes to warm up with this new idea. If it’s a poem, I might be able to crank out a first draft. If it’s a song, I can jot notes, sing and record the melody on my computer. If it’s a short story or essay, I can make an outline or jump on in with a cannonball splash.

With no expectations, it’s been a great way to start each writing day.

How do you get yourself to the page when you’re up against your own SPLAT?

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4 Comments

Filed under Practical Procrastination, writing life

4 responses to “Writing Life: The Secret Project

  1. You wrote: “Perhaps you, too, are procrastinating to the page because of your own expectations. Maybe you’re afraid of imperfection, maybe you have a lack of confidence.”
    I procrastinate for exactly these reasons…err…excuses. I have been working on book edits, but have not blogged in quite awhile. I loved it when my friend told me about the wonky planetary alignments. I milked it. *blush* Okay, I confess to experiencing the SPLAT. *sigh*
    Thanks for verablizing what I have been going through. I do appreciate your suggestions to keep on track.

    • I think every writer goes through SPLAT no matter how experienced they are. At the SCBWI conference last year, Judy Blume (Judy Blume, for god’s sake!) spoke about the difficulty of each new book. I try to remember, even though it doesn’t feel like it, that going through SPLAT is a good thing!

  2. I’m like you; I can’t work on more than one major project at one time either. But I do need to be writing every day, so when I’m in research mode for a novel I fare much better if I’m doing writing prompts or poetry or even a short story.

  3. Pingback: Weekend Workout: For the Sheer Pleasure of It | writing to support my teaching habit

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