How I Learned to Stop Procrastinating and Fall in Love With My Work-in-Progress Again

Yesterday, I rediscovered what it was like to get lost inside a work-in-progress again, and feel excited by the prospect of it all.

All the interruptions in life meant several things that were near and dear to me were sacrificed. One of those being my work-in-progress. The truth is I could have made the time, but the more distance I gave the WIP, the easier it became to ignore it, and that’s simply a cardinal sin a writer shouldn’t commit. Whatever excuses I made – and there were plenty, and all we’re legit reasons – there was likely nothing that would have prevented me from taking even fifteen minutes to jot down some notes or flesh out a character or sketch a scene.

Regardless…

For some reason, I have no idea why, I was thinking about baseball, and I had remembered this one elderly man who worked the security desk at the building I worked in when I was a Pfizer employee from ’94 to ’00. In addition to working the security desk, he had a unique second job: he worked for the New York Yankees, as the greeter at George Steinbrenner’s private suite at Yankee Stadium. Pete was his name, and he was constantly yapping about his beloved Yankees (a source of annoyance for this long-time Mets fan: OH SHUT UP), and sometimes he was WAY OFF about his opinions. For example, right before the ’96 season got started:

“Not sure what Mr. Steinbrenner’s soon’ hirin’ Joe Torre. He couldn’t win anywhere. He might be fired by the All-Star break!”

Torre won nearly 1500 games and 4 World Series.

Also, same conversation:

“This new shortstop’s not all that good, Jeter. He’ll end up in the minors not too long.”

OOPS. When Derek Jeter retires at the end of the 2014 season, he’ll be the Yankees’ all-time leader in hits, runs scored, and games played, and perhaps the most beloved Yankee since Mickey Mantle.

Just goes to show we can’t always be right.

When I thought about Pete, I thought about some of the blowhards, both men and women, that I’d worked with. There was some background I felt that was essential that was missing so far from my WIP, namely my protagonist’s professional life. What she did for a living was as important as who she works with. I thought these past experiences of mine would make for good details to plug in, and see where the story leads me. I was eager to do some plugging and revisit my WIP.

But being that yesterday was Memorial Day, with swimming pools and gas grills galore, my day was going to get monopolized by all things Memorial Day. My daughter was itching up get to the pool. I was itching to get some writing.

Compromise: I took my daughter to the pool, and while she splish-splashed with her friends, I wrote 5 pages longhand in my notebook, lounging on a deck chair. 907 words in two hours’ time, just letting the words flow while the sun was beating down on me. I didn’t stop to edit, I didn’t make notes about what I wanted to write. I just wrote. What took place kinda reminded me of this picture I once saw of Hunter S. Thompson, before he became the legendary gonzo journalist:

(I swear, I was doing the same exact thing: notepad, beer, shorts, bare feet. Maybe there is something to writing in the sunshine, huh?)

I’m setting some time aside tonight – after this blog gets posted – to capitalize on the momentum I’ve suddenly picked up, now that I’ve rekindled my love affair with my work-in-progress. More importantly, it’s essential to me that regardless of the amount of time I set aside each day, whether it’s fifteen minutes or a few hours, those are the moments I should most take advantage of. There’s a work-in-progress that’s been neglected for too long, and it’s time I give it the full attention it truly deserves.

This should be fun.

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8 thoughts on “How I Learned to Stop Procrastinating and Fall in Love With My Work-in-Progress Again

  1. Part of me is very superstitious. I may have to force my daughter to go to the pool every day, just so I can squeeze in some writing. Not that she would complain!

  2. I’ve never seen a picture of a young Hunter S. Thompson before. No surprise he has a drink in his hand. It appears momentum is important to writers, something I should bear in mind.

  3. Good luck. I’ve was asked about my writing process recently in an interview. Here was my answer:

    Imagine you have a crayon about an inch in length. It doesn’t have a wrapper on it. The crayon is your imagination. You use the crayon to color on a single piece of paper. The paper is your story. Since you are a passionate colorer, you press really, really hard! As you knew would happen, the crayon runs out fairly fast. When the crayon is gone, it’s all done. Sometimes the final result is, “Yay! Look at my story!” and sometimes the result is “Fuck, I ran out of crayon!” Crayons are difficult to locate.

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