Slacking: Contagious as the Common Cold

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Last week, I got a sore throat. For the first couple days, it would only hurt for a few hours then go away. At that point, I chalked it up to some sort of allergic reaction. But then, that sore throat decided to set up camp for good. Of course, this had to happen during my Weasel reunion with two of my very favorite people, Jess & Rach, but I sucked it up and dealt because I hadn’t seen them in forever and it was so great to catch up, get pedicures, eat, and most importantly, chat about writing. But once they were both gone, my attention refocused on my throat situation, who decided at that point to bring its friend, congestion, into the mix as well.

Now, the sore throat’s gone, but congestion is hanging around like the unwelcome guest it always is. And being sick for the past few days served as the perfect excuse to lie around, watch TV, and not do what I should always be doing: writing and revising.

Which brings me to slacking. Today I got to thinking how it’s not so different from a cold in that it’s easy to be lazy and procrastinate, even though deep down you know you should get your butt off that couch and into your computer chair. But sometimes, it’s impossible to make that argument against slacking, when you’re so comfy and hey, you don’t even remember the last time you saw that rerun of “Seinfield” and oh, a snack might be nice and ooh, this Snuggie is so toasty and…

You get the gist. But fellow slackers, I’m here to tell you that you can break out of this sickness. All it takes is a little push.

And in my case, that push came today from my lovely friend, Jess, who served as the reminder I needed that if I want to finish revising my manuscript, it’s time to get off my butt and do it. I’m proud to say I got back to work today, and I have some ideas on what I want to work on tomorrow, too.

Now, if I could just convince my pal congestion to get lost, everything would be peachy.

Editing & Snow Removal: More Alike Than You Might Think

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This morning while I was in the shower, I started dreading driving to work today. Not because I don’t want to work or anything like that, but because of the potential snow storm moving our way and the fact that my trusty Hybrid isn’t the best at driving through snow/ice.

Which got me thinking about how snow and writing aren’t that different. Apart from my mom, I admit I’m in the minority among my circle of friends in that I absolutely DESPISE snow. Unlike most people who think it’s beautiful and fun to watch come down, at the very first sign of the white crap, I want to scream. Why? Because in my opinion, most of what snow accomplishes is negative. It makes the roads slick and, depending on how much you get, sometimes undriveable, which leads to being stranded at home, which then leads to cabin fever, and so on and so on. It’s a vicious cycle. Honestly, I think once the snow starts to really accumulate, the only people that truly benefit from it are teachers and students that are awarded with snow days. (Which, if you think about it, could eventually lead to cabin fever, right?)

Okay, back to writing. I realized this morning that a first draft is like the first snowfall of the year. I think it’s a pretty safe assumption to say the majority of people get excited when they spy the snow start to come down, blanketing the grass and roads with sparkly snowflakes. The same can be said when you start a new manuscript: at first, you’re thrilled when a new idea hits you and pours onto the page. But after you finish the first draft, at least in my experience, you start to wonder if your story moved in the direction it should, if the plot makes sense, if the characters are believable and appealing, and if it ends in the most satisfying way possible. Chances are, you won’t be able to answer yes to each of these. In fact, you’ll probably say no to at least 3 of the 4 questions – and you’re probably kidding yourself with the 1 yes.

The same goes for snow. Sure, at first, it’s pretty and fun to see. But after it keeps piling up, and the roads get slicker and slicker, and (God forbid) your power goes out and you try not to freeze to death as you scarf down the rest of your bread and milk you got to weather the storm (which makes you wonder why the hell that food combo made sense to begin with), your original favorable opinion of the snow might shift completely. All you want at that point (besides your electricity to come back on, so you can charge your smart phone you’re practically dying without), is for the snow to STOP. But even when it does, you’re still left with another problem: shoveling it up, maybe even salting your driveway, so that you can clear your path.

When it comes to writing, editing is like your snow shovel: you get rid of the parts of your manuscript that are holding your story back. Then, you sprinkle in NEW parts (i.e., salt) that steady your pathway and melt away the slick “ice” (read: unbelievable or boring subplots/characters) away. Now don’t misunderstand what I’m saying – one use of the snow shovel isn’t going to completely get rid of the icky snow blocking your way. In fact, even while you “shovel” (edit), the snow might start falling again (your additional words may not be up to snuff either).

But the important part is to not give up shoveling. Because if you believe you really have something in your story, bundle up and keep salting. Because even if you can’t SEE your sidewalk/driveway through the snow, you have to take comfort in the fact that you know it’s there.

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