I’ve fallen behind again where my writing is concerned. I haven’t done nearly enough of it of late. Worse still, when I am doing it I’m not working on the one project that should be getting my undivided attention.
I’ve also buggered up a bit. I promised myself that, after the last edit of Revenge on the Spanish Main, I was going to read through it without touching it; something I’ve never done. My intentions were legit. I copied and pasted the story from one document to another, changed the font, the layout, and whatever else (I was told that’s the best way to read your own manuscripts as you’re more likely to notice any glaring errors).
What have I ended up doing? Editing it again!!! Okay, this edit isn’t anywhere near as thorough. All I’m doing is fixing a few minor errors, rewriting certain sentences to make them sound better, and deleting unnecessary passages of text. That isn’t the point though. I wasn’t supposed to be editing it at all. I was supposed to be just reading it.
Thanks to that, it’s taking me ages again. Worse still, I haven’t gone near it in a couple of weeks now. I’ve rediscovered my love for Assassin’s Creed and Football Manager, often playing both games simultaneously, and they’re taking up time that I should be using to read through Revenge.
It’s not all bad. I did manage to edit A Survivor’s Apocalypse Story and release it as an eBook on three separate formats (find it on Amazon, Wattpad, and Smashwords). I also managed to write a little piece of flash fiction as well—a weird one whereupon I came up with the title before I even knew what the story was going to be! So I have, at least, kept my hand in where writing is concerned.
The problem is that my priority is neither Apocalypse nor the flash fiction story. They’re side-attractions. Revenge is the big kahuna. Revenge is my money shot. That is the piece of work that I should be giving the lion’s share of my attention to. So why am I not doing that? What psychological block is preventing me from doing what I know I should be doing?
Is it that I’m easily distracted? Assassin’s Creed games have always had a way of hooking me in and Football Manager offers me the chance to shape the footballing world to suit my whims. In my game, Manchester City are a tier two club and are guaranteed to slip lower still because I’ve made it so! It makes me feel a little better because seeing how dominant they are in real life annoys me. Of course, I am actually trying to win things with other teams as well. I’m not on it simply to destroy Man City. That’s just a delightful fringe benefit. Is that pathetic? It’s a rhetorical question of course. I know it’s pathetic!
It’s always been a flaw of mine that my head will get turned by things—usually things that are trivial and unimportant—causing me to lose sight of the thing that actually needs my attention.
That leads me to the question in the title: is it that I’m easily distracted or do I procrastinate because I’m nervous? Am I nervous that the big project I’m working on won’t be the success I crave it to be? Is it easier to pour myself into things I can control the outcome of, such as Assassin’s Creed and Football Manager, rather than give my all to something that might very well end up getting shot down by whomever I approach with it? I know that, at some point, I’m going to have to relinquish my vice-like grip on Revenge and allow somebody, a total stranger, to read it with harsh criticism, probably tear it to shreds, and declare my proudest work isn’t good enough. The mere thought scares me.
On the face of it, nervous procrastination sounds exactly like what I’m doing. That said, I’m conscious of the fact that I may just be making excuses for what is downright laziness and a lack of dedication. Kind of like back in the day when I wouldn’t write and claim that it was because I couldn’t get ‘in the zone’. It was utter drivel! I know that I wasn’t writing because I was too busy doing anything else. There was no zone I needed to be in. Is my present situation something similar only dressed in a different set of clothes?
I know that I can’t keep this up. I will have to stop with the nonsense and get to work on Revenge again. I’m committed to what is now another edit. All I can do is try and get the edit done as quickly as I possibly can and then, as originally planned, read the damned story and LEAVE IT THE HELL ALONE!!! I’d like to think that, after this edit, it’ll be close enough to perfect that I won’t feel the need to mess about with it. There again, I thought that this time around and here I am editing once more! I wish I wasn’t such a tinkerer. Alluding again to Football Manager, it takes me absolutely ages to get through a season because I’m forever messing around with small particulars rather than just getting on with the game like most people do. I do exactly the same with my writing.
In some ways, that attention to detail and perfectionism could be seen as a good thing. I often see the work of others and they are clearly in a rush to get it out there rather than giving it a thorough look over before allowing the world to see it. Each to their own obviously. To me, however, that seems like the wrong thing to do as some errors I see are really glaring. I couldn’t allow that in my own work. I know my posts contain errors but I’m sure they aren’t as frequent as they can be in the posts of others. If it wasn’t for my perfectionism then I’m in no doubt that my offerings would be littered with errors also.
The pitfall with perfectionism is that when it comes to something really big, like Revenge, it is absolutely never ready! There is always something else that needs doing on it; something that editors and publishers will definitely see if I don’t rectify it. That’s the curse of my mindset.
A cut-off point must be reached. There must be a time in the near-future where I say to myself “I have to stop this. The manuscript is as good as I’m going to get it without the magic touch of an editor.” That day will have to arrive. If it doesn’t then I might as well completely give up on the idea of publication.
A good start would be to ditch the computer games and get to work on Revenge again. And I will. Just as soon as I’ve finished this last game…
Catch up with all previous additions to this series by clicking here.