When old habits are hard to abandon… I’m looking at you Procrastination!

Procrastination has been affecting my life since I can remember. Fortunately, these last couple of years, I’ve been suffering less of it or else I would’ve never achieved a novel’s first draft (it should be treated as an illness!). But I haven’t gone over it yet. I might now put a daily effort on my writer goals, but it’s not enough yet.

The one to blame, the Internet.

I could use the computer and disconnect, but I depend heavily on thesaurus.com I could get a physical copy, but certainly working with the website allows me to easily navigate from word to word’s synonyms and definitions in a matter of seconds, without losing the inspiration or the sentence idea that troubles my mind at that point. I’ve tried using printed copies of dictionaries and thesaurus, but they’re not meant to be used on every single minute. And yes, I still use it a lot. Especially, since English is not my first language, many times I just want to make sure I got the correct definition and that the synonym I’m choosing to use is accurate.

So if thesaurus.com wasn’t such a good tool and as dependent on internet connectivity as it is, I would probably disconnect from Wi-Fi. But if this website helps my writing, what is the real problem?

My mind is used to multi-tasking. As a result, thoughts, ideas, and hyperactivity flood my brain almost 24/7 (If mental hyperactivity could be translated into physical hyperactivity… I would be the best athlete in the world… but that’s another topic). My mind doesn’t really switch off until I go to bed. And sometimes, I find trouble sleeping trying to unplug my mind from its endless ideas, worries, etc. So while writing, it’s normal for me to get distracted by other websites; afraid (maybe an excuse word) that I will forget later what I wanted to buy in Ebay, that I will miss what’s going on Facebook, and that there are still tips, blogs, and websites I should be looking at for my next trip (in 2 weeks – Tripadvisor, I’m looking at you!),  I open the browser and proceed to search, look, and verify other issues while in the middle of writing.

The result: guilt invading me at around 10:00 pm when my eyes are starting to feel the burden of the day and I have to choose between:

  • Giving up and going to bed
  • Continue the writing until almost midnight or until my eyes are hyper red. The direct consequence: I cannot invest any more reading time in bed if I want to give my eyes a proper resting (after all, I spend the whole day in front of the computer)

Maybe I’m too anxious for vacations these days, and I cannot move forward without taking out of my mind all the issues that should be arranged or known before traveling. Maybe after my holidays, my mind will be clear enough to continue working. But who am I kidding? There will always be a next trip, a next activity, or a next excuse. If I’m going to take the writing career for good, then I’d better eliminate the word Procrastination from my vocabulary. Any advice?

 

 

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That strange feeling at the end of they year

As the holidays are about to arrive and people start getting ready for the long holiday vacations, 2016 also strikes in. And of course, new year’s resolutions can be a common topic around this time. Many people here at my work are counting the days for the holidays to start. I’m not. Although, a rest is always well received, I still don’t want 2015 to be over.  I feel like time is going too fast. I still want to make the most of what is left of 2015, even if it’s only a couple of days.

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I know that age and time are just numbers, but in certain ways, they always tick and remind me of my goals in life. This year was intensive, and I did many things during it. I really wanted to have my novel done in 2015. But I’m not there, and I will probably work on it for a couple of months more. In some way, I haven’t met this year’s resolutions and I can’t avoid feeling a little bit sad about this. Moreover, I’m finding it difficult to go back to my book. As you know from previous posts, I stopped writing for more than a month, and now, I find it hard to get back into the writing routine again. If it were me, I would try to finish the novel in these days. But I’m aware it’s not possible.

Do you usually have this feeling when it’s nearing the end of the year?

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The good experiences that come with writers conferences…

Well, I’m back from one of the most thrilling experiences in my life. For those who don’t know, I had the opportunity to attend this year’s Writers Digest Conference in NYC. It was certainly an opportunity you don’t get to live very often and I’m glad I was able to take a part in it.

What did I learn? 

I think all can be summarized to the following points:

  • There’s still too much to learn – And it comes with time and experience. I haven’t read all the “must read” classic books or the “must read best sellers” yet, but I was relieved to find that at least I’ve read the most important/famous ones. A good fact to know is that not only it’s about reading the good old classics but also reading the latest best sellers; see what formula they’re using to be highly commercial in recent times. Old time formulas may not be suitable for these days anymore, i.e. you can’t write as Shakespeare anymore…
  • I seem to be not that lost – Yeah… this was kind of gratifying actually, because even though I was there to learn new things, it was good to know that I’ve been doing my share of work and that I’m not that lost in this world of books and publishing industry. Basics such as don’t put that your “family and mom loved your manuscript” or that “you’re sure you have the next best seller” in your query letter were already good known facts to me….It felt good to know that I was not swimming in the amateur waters anymore…

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  • I still have a long way – I’ve just finished my first novel and I’m one hundred per cent sure that I can do it better. I feel confident that I can plot and write better stories. I know the writing process will be easier each time (hopefully the revision process as well, which is the most terrifying one for me) Nevertheless, I feel pretty confident about my first project. There were tons of conference attendees who were already in their fourth or fifth book and still learning a lot…
  • I learned I can totally rock Pitch Slams – I think this was the main reason why I thought the conference was awesome. From the seven agents I pitched, I got requests from the seven. It was unbelievable. I managed to control my nervousness, forget that English is not my native language, and speak with confidence. I loved the process.
  • I can manage rejection much better now – I’ve already sent my material to the seven agents yesterday. One has already replied this morning saying that “it may not be for him” (I wonder why he seemed so interested in the pitch slam. Was it because he thought it well and decided it was not for him? we’ll never know…) But even if I get these sort of replies from the other six agents, it will only be the encouragement to keep growing stronger, to keep fighting. I made a good decent start, and the sky is the limit. I’ll continue with much force. I’ll do more research. I’ll read more books. I’ll write more. I’ll try harder. I don’t plan to give up, not now when I feel so full of energy 🙂

I read a couple of blog posts I wrote more than a year ago. In these posts I was still looking for my path. I didn’t know where I stood at that point, trying to find out my true passions, looking for courage to do what I really loved. I was trying to tell the people around me that maybe I was meant to do something different from my career; ashamed to share my longtime dreams. I felt unsure of any talents I had. Now, I feel on the right path. Even though it’ll take a while to reach my goals, I know for sure, that I’m on the right track this time. And I’m very thankful to God for that.

How to get your hand not to agree with you

My whole life, or since I can remember, I’ve been invaded by Ganglion cysts in my wrists. Those are small liquid balls that appear in your wrists for no apparent reason but to disturb your life. They usually come and go, but some of them like to stick around causing pain. I’ve already got them surgically removed twice, leaving “good looking” scars.

The thought about scars is that they always leave space for good stories, like the one on my right wrist that led this weird guy in a club approach and tell me that He used to do that but not anymore… it took me time to realize that he thought it was some sort drug mark or maybe suicide attempt (which would be dumb since veins are on the other side of the wrist), and when I told him No dude is not what you think, he told me something like Yeah I used to deny it too… anyway…

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Image source: www.canstockphoto.com

The problem now is that the “thing” as I call it, won’t go until my hand stops making “efforts”, the good doctor has advised me to use the wrist the least possible, type the least, which me having a full time job as a Technical Writer and having the long-time dream of becoming a Fiction writer, maybe be outputting… but I guess life is not always easy…

Luckily, there are always ways, and I’m happy that I found them. I’ve reduced my manuscript edition workload to the use of pen and paper, right hand is the good one this time (lucky me!), and I’ll see if I can find somebody later who can do all the computer typing. Also, typing at work has improved thanks to a recently acquired Ergonomic keyboard which is magnificent!  And since I had to be careful with the type of exercise I chose (one where I don’t use hands), I bought myself an AirClimber (my first Teleshopping – equivalent to QVC – purchase ever!) and I love it!.

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And although my hand may not agree with my writing duties and lifestyle, I still have found ways to overcome this situation. And you, have you ever found yourself in a similar situation? (it doesn’t have to involve ganglion cysts) 

Will I ever stop editing my book?

After some brief vacations on the beach (some heavy burning and the realization that the beach may not be for me), I’ve started the second revision of my manuscript and realized that this one is also going to take me a while. I’ve started with chapter one and there were so many ways to improve it, I practically re-wrote the whole thing again, and I’m still not convinced. I’m planning to go over it again tonight.

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Image source: www.gracebooks.org

The positive point is that I believe my writing has improved and it’s getting better each time with more practice and reading. The bad is that I’m afraid I won’t ever stop editing; it seems that I’ll get improving and improving and I’ll never finish editing my manuscript.

Of course when I write, I tend to reach a point where I read my words and find them exciting and beautiful; but after leaving it for a while and coming back to it later, I still find that it’s not what I want it. Am I too perfectionist? That would freak me out. I’ve never been perfectionist in anything else, maybe it was because I’ve never found the necessary interest in other activities, but now is different, all interest and expectations are on board.

So, help, I need advice from people out there who write and sometimes stop to read my blog? When do you know you have to stop editing?