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Waffles

I’ve got 5 days left of my holidays, then back to the adult world. I don’t necessarily think I make a good adult. I’m too distracted by where I’m going to be when I’m 50 and I’ve not hit 40 yet.

I’ve come to the decision that 2013 is going to be the reality of choices. Making the choices better than I have previously. It’s the time for me to start to truly shine, or at least polish off a bit of tarnish here and there.

Yesterday I spent absolutely no time at all on making 2013 better. I played on the net. I watched some TV. I drank some coffee. That was it. It was hot. I was tired. All in all it was a very relaxing day and a very relaxing start to 2013.

I’ve made a commitment to myself to finish whatever projects I start in 2013. It’s a rare project indeed for me that starts and actually ends. Twice yesterday I felt my mind going towards a project – one is the backyard, and trust me Muriel’s mum had the right idea when she burnt hers to the ground – and the other was a movie idea.

Both times I thought “If you start this, you have to finish it, like a bowl of brussell sprouts” and then found myself distracted by bright shiny things and forgot all about it.

I think that says it all. It appears I’ve set myself to go head on against my well built procrastination. I’m remarkably good at procrastination. I do it without thinking. If I had to think about it I’d probably put off procrastination until tomorrow as well.

I don’t like to think of myself as lazy, but I think I have to acknowledge that procrastination only gets to be used so far as an excuse. Once you get to the bottom of it I’m probably one of the laziest people on the planet. I work hard in the real world, but that’s all I do.

Over the years it’s become almost an excuse. I spent most of my early life in meaningless jobs. By meaningless I mean just that. I worked in Customer Service. In call centres. You could not get a more meaningless job. I challenge anyone to work in Customer Service and not develop a life-long hatred of dealing with the general public.

No matter how hard you worked, no matter what you did to make a customers problem go away the ingratitude of those you dealt with was the only guarantee. I can count on one hand the amount of people I dealt with in a ten year career who actually said “thank you” when I fixed whatever the problem was.

I lost count in the first week of the amount of rude names I was called, the amount of customers who believed – erroneously as it turned out with me – that by yelling, screaming and swearing at the voice on the other end of the phone they would get their problems fixed faster.

When I finally managed to escape the salt mines and get a job in a different industry I revelled in the challenge of the job. I also under estimated how the average person I research with would treat the voice on the phone. I think I’ve been abused twice in 6 years. I have learnt that if you’re doing research hit up the C-Suite, because middle management tend to be the ones who are rude, while the C-Suite are nine times out of ten more than happy to give you five minutes to help, particularly if they get to present at the event.

Since moving from customer service to conference production and then onto management – now I understand why middle management are so abrupt *smirk* – I’ve thrown everything I have and then some into making sure I keep my job. In the process I’ve learnt a lot about the industry, but I’ve also developed a habit of coming home exhausted and passing out in front of the TV.

It’s that habit I now need to break. It’s the habit of home equalling “relaxation time” that I need to break, because frankly I do nothing but relax at home these days. I claim – and usually it’s accurate – that I’m too tired to write. I do the household chore type things, but I don’t do anything to feed my creativity or make my goal of writing a script that will be made a reality.

This blog shows the scatter-gun approach I have with writing. I write sporadically. Sometimes you get a post a day or every couple of days, other times you get a post a fortnight.

What I need to create is a sense of consistency. When I write, if I do it consistently I find the characters and situations develop in stages. The first time I wrote a script I thought I’d done it wrong because I wrote the entire thing in a month and a half. Only the first draft but I still thought I’d made an error. The second script I wrote, I did it in three weeks.

The difference between script one and two was that script two didn’t have a 2 week gap where I refused to write because it was crap. Both scripts were handwritten, on the train, on the commute to and from work.

Editing was done at home on the weekend, after the first draft was typed onto my old desktop computer.

Sidenote: If you’re going to write a script get a good software package. I use Final Draft but there are free ones around that do the same job. Trying to format a script in Word was by far and away the most horrible experience of my life.

Both of those first feature scripts were written during my call centre days. I think from memory the last one was drafted in 2004. I remember sitting in the car park at the company I worked at writing away like a man possessed during my lunch breaks.

When I did the Stage One Screenwriting course at the Australian Writers’ Centre in May last year, I wrote a short screenplay. Again I thought I’d done it wrong. It only took about 2 and half hours to write the first draft. All up I probably spent about ten hours during the editing and drafting process for that short script.

I wrote Butterfly in a little under ninety minutes one Sunday afternoon in September or October. I’ve invested at most another 2 or 3 hours or so in the editing of the project. I find when I write that my main stumbling block is the speed with which I write.

When I step out of my own way and simply let the words flow it’s almost like I’m not even there. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but I find pleasure in reading what I write because when I write it, it’s like an 1/8 of my brain in paying attention and the other 7/8’s are either on vacation or watching over my shoulder as the characters dictate what happens next.

Blogging is the same. I rarely if ever have any idea what I’m going to be writing about when I sit down. The process is; I find a picture, a title and then start typing and see what happens.

I guess the point to this post is that for me to finish a project I really need to start developing consistency. I need to take the steps and follow the path. I also need to centre on an idea and stick with it. Now that I have a laptop I can write on the train again if I remember to take the laptop with me. All I need is a seat.

If I write on the train going to and from work, that unlocks three hours a day of writing time. As I’ve seen through my own past experience that’s sufficient time to generate a first draft in a few weeks. Having the laptop also means I don’t need to type the draft up once it’s finished. I can do it all at once.

I often think of people who are already successful at writing. I wonder how they do it with families and loved ones when I don’t have that call on my time. I have no responsibilities really beyond the standard ones. I work to pay rent, buy food etc. I don’t need to worry about anything else, yet I’m always making the excuse of being busy.

I don’t know if I’ll write on the train, but I do know that excuses and procrastination are going to be my biggest obstacles in achieving my goal for 2013 of completing any projects I start. I think the focus of Writing in Shadows is going to move more towards that ideal in 2013. How do you finish a project when you’re so adapt at procrastinating you never bloody start one.

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43 year old Australian writer currently working on the first of a planned three book Epic Fantasy series. When he's not writing policy discussions, or tales of swords, Gods, and magic, he can be found making a mess in the kitchen, and turning perfectly good ingredients into crimes against humanity.

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