29 October 2009

A Sophisticated Form of Writer's Procrastination

Two On-going Plot Phone Consultations in a row, with two separate writers, each of whom suffers from a sophisticated form of procrastination.

Both writers, one fiction, one non-fiction, have had the dream of writing / finishing their books for a long time now. Both writers, after years of thinking and planning and researching their projects have both settled down and committed to the process. (Or, so they think.) By signing up for my services they crossed from the ordinary world of stopping and starting, dreaming and waiting to doing something about it = The End of the Beginning. 

The antagonists they faced in the Beginning (1/4) -- life, jobs, family -- are nothing compared to what they face now that they have crossed over into the Middle. Both writers have outrageously important books to write -- important for a multitude of reasons, the most important being, in my mind, to save their very spirits (I know, I'm a bit dramatic here but you know writers...) = the act of completion. Neither writer is able to move on to other writing projects that call to them (many of which they've started but never quite finished) or really much of any other creative endeavors until this one is done.

Now that they have crossed over into this new and exotic world of the Middle -- the writer's life, they face a most formidable antagonist = the dreaded procrastination. Now their internal doubts and insecurities are no longer hidden behind the worthy causes of caring for children and providing financial security to those they love. Now the doubt and insecurity oozes out all over and when they least expect it. Especially now. Always before they were competent and successful and selflessly giving to others.

Now they flounder and feel unworthy and stripped of control (after all, who really can control the creative source. It's more like sliding aboard the Giant Dipper and holding on for dear life). And, where do they hear their doubts the loudest? In the silence of their writing caves and on the blank page.

So what do they do? They do what they do best. They research more, spend hours pondering and planning, and come up with a million and one excuses -- all of them worthy -- for not sitting down and writing.

Though my primary job is to act as the archetype of the Mentor and help writers with their plots and support writers in the process of crafting a story, for these two writers and countless others just like them, I long to shape shift into the Trickster and burn, toss out, throw away their binders of research notes, stacks of reference books, and zip drives filled with information. Each of these two writers know their subject matter to a level of such expertise that they could lecture to thousands. They know so much that the act of condensing it into a compelling read paralyzes each of them.

Neither one has hit the Halfway mark yet. They are still organizing, pondering, mapping out.

Until they keep to a writing schedule and the rough ("vomit") draft is finished, they have not truly committed to the process (what symbolizes the Halfway Point of any great story)(yes, to those of you reading this who are familiar with the Universal Story form, they don't even have a clue about the Crisis that awaits them).

Until they do, I wait.

The muse waits.

Their stories wait.

The world waits....