Okay, you know how it goes. You haven’t quite got that story to the place where you’re ready to write. Or maybe you’re a pantser, and you’re always ready to write, but for some reason it’s not flowing today. The pants are too tight. Too loose. Whatever.
So you find something else to do. Something you need to do. Oh, it’s part of the writing process. Maybe it’s research, a book you’ve found that really does have all the details you need. Or there’s an actual site you have to check out, to get the description correct in this scene. Sure, yeah, that site happens to be at the beach. Next to the ice-cream truck. On the most beautiful day of the year. Hey, it’s part of the writing process. No research? Surely there’s a writing workshop you need to take–the new one on settings you’ve heard so much about, or the one that promises to teach you the trick to writing a foolproof query. Yes, absolutely. All important. Part of the writing proc—you get it.
For me, it’s almost always plot. You probably know that by now. When I get muddled or frustrated or lost, I back out of the words and try to see the sequence, the structure, the map. And, yes, like all my other examples, it’s something I need. Truly.
It’s also, though, oh…just a little bit of procrastination. That’s what it feels like, anyway. Especially when I am frustrated or lost, and I have strong doubts that the plot work will lead to anything helpful. Heck, by that point, I usually have doubts that Hermoine Granger could come up with anything helpful. And I end up being pretty sure I’m just playing head games with myself, coming up with an excuse not to face the hard stuff, filling time instead of filling pages.
Oh, and isn’t it nice when I’m wrong?
Today, I did just what I’ve described. I stopped by my Bookmobile and got most of the picture books that Eve Heidi Bine-Stick dissects in How to Write a Picture Book, Vol 1: Structure, and I started reading. First the picture book, then Bine-Stock’s breakdown. I got through Leo the Late Bloomer and Harry the Dirty Dog (a book I have always loved so much, I didn’t even have to get it from the library; it’s already on my picture-book shelf!). Not only did these examples wake me up to the fact that I’m probably writing a simpler/younger picture book this time around, but they helped me see the structure more clearly and–as usually follows upon that clarity–got the story ideas popping!
I ended up where I always end up with a good writing-craft book: putting the book down and racing for my computer.
And, of course, doing the happy dance.
Such a happy dance that I’m not even embarrassed to paraphrase something from the A-Team: I love it when a procrastination plan comes together!