29 Oct


Posted in DIY MFA, Writing

Sometimes in life all you can do is wait.  Wait for good news.  Or bad news.  Or any news at all.  But regardless, you’re waiting.

It drives me crazy sometimes because when I want to know something, I want to know NOW, and everything else just feels like passing the time.

Writers know what it’s like to wait.  You send a story out and then you wait.  You send a batch of queries and you wait.  You send your piece to a critique group and you wait.  And all the while, it feels like the writing process gets suspended in time, just waiting.

It’s like this with the act of writing too.  Some stories just aren’t ready to gush out as quickly as you would like.  Some books need time to ripen before you harvest them and put them on the page.  You can’t always beat stories out of your brain with a stick; it just doesn’t work that way.

Of course, we’ve all heard writers say that you can’t wait around for inspiration, because writing is about BIC (butt in chair) and not just that glimmer of an idea.  And I agree, in theory.  But I also believe that writing is about balance and about recognizing when one idea needs time to lie low and when you need to work on something else for a change.

I call this Active Procrastination, a trick I perfected in college.  It works like this: when faced with a lot of tasks, some of which you’re just not ready to deal with right now, you pick an easy and harmless task to do first.  Like watching a movie for your film class before starting on the scary research paper.  You’re still getting stuff done, but you’re letting your brain rest until you’re ready to tackle the big things.

Lately I’ve had some big stuff on my plate, some of which I’ve had to be dealt with quickly because it was time-sensitive and this has totally discombobulated my writing practice.  Now I’m waiting.  Not for something relating to my writing but for someone central to my life.  And the minutes can’t tick by fast enough.  In the meantime, I’m trying to read or write or do anything to pass the time.

Tick, tock, tick, tock.

What about you?  What do you do to make the waiting part of the writing process more bearable?


Comments on this post

  1. KarenG says:

    I love the idea of active procrastination. Actually I do that a lot but never gave it a name. Now I will! And I hate waiting too. Ugh, I have so little patience.

    1. Kristal Shaff says:

      I don't wait well at all, unfortunately. I'll tell you once I figure it out.

      1. Shaddy aka Cheryl says:

        I workout, do housework, try to act like all is well…sometimes it works and other times, well, I'm still going nuts on the inside.

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