I Am Heartily Ashamed Of Myself

Do you think this blog is helpful?

I do, under a certain set of conditions.  It helps me a lot.  You have no idea what you never knew until you write a thousand words about it.  If it helps others in the process, excellent.  However, its true purpose is to help me.

And does it?  I think it does, under a certain set of conditions.  Unfortunately, the more frequent advice comes through this blog, the less often those conditions are met.

What are those conditions?  That I write.

None of this helps anyone if I don’t write.  I could write ten thousand words a day about character development, plot twists, and story structure, but if I don’t write, it all goes to waste.  But wait… I’m writing ten thousand words a day.

I meant writing fiction.  Story structure and character development don’t help essays.

Ideas are similar.  If I don’t write them (or anything else so I can excuse not writing them), they don’t help.  I can’t tell you how many novel ideas I have.  Plot bunnies breed plot bunnies, and if no one writes at least one of them, they do more harm than good.

Social networks are the big killers.  Whether it’s the blog, email, or NaNoWriMo forums (I cringe), it is the same enemy to fight.  I honestly just spend an entire minute trying to look up how to say “I cringe” in Latin, because I thought it would be fun.  That’s the problem.

Every procrastination, every distraction, every word in the Latin dictionary is there to keep you from doing everything you need to do.  You need to write, or all this goes to waste.  That brilliant idea you had last night for a story?  It’s worthless.  Your post on characters’ flaws?  Trash.  Everything you have done to lead up to this moment, everything you have taught yourself in an effort to make yourself better– it’s gone.  You let things slide, and they slid all the way to the gallows, where they rot to this day.

This morning, I spent a quarter of an hour– nay, half an hour or more– looking up fountain pens.  Yep.  I just checked GoodReads, only to find that absolutely nothing had gone on while I wrote these 377 words.  I had forty-five minutes of time to use the computer this morning, and I blew two thirds of it on a Wikipedia page, which isn’t even supposed to be reliable information!

I still want a fountain pen, though.

Writing Excuses podcasts.  Doctor Who episodes.  I fall prey to just about everything.

I broke a record recently.  I dislike using new keyboard shortcuts to do things I could easily click on.  I didn’t learn the keyboard shortcuts for copy and paste for years.  However, to force myself to write without distractions, I have been using a program called FocusWriter, which essentially fills the entire screen so you can’t cut away to internet or other applications.  By the second day of using it, I had already memorized the keyboard shortcut for minimizing the window.

double-facepalm

Did you know I spent three minutes looking for the above picture?

darth-vader-epic-fail

My point is this: I am guilty.  Clap me in irons, put me in the brig, but leave me a pencil and some paper.

Make that a fountain pen.

I am heartily ashamed of myself.  But by the end of the month of June, I will have completed at least one novella (Phil Phorce 5), possibly two, if I write 5 and 6 in one go.  It could happen– I’m already researching for 6.

You can hold me to it.

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118 Comments

  1. Every time you wrote a post like this, I’m suddenly inspired to write something. Last time I ended up writing 5,000 words in one night, which was awesome (though school the next day was torture). And I too waste an alarming amount of time on social networking sites. One time I spent forty five minutes looking through a bunch of photos on a Facebook group page thingy. The pictures weren’t even funny, and afterwards I was annoyed at the amount of precious time I had wasted.

    And I just googled a fountain pen, and I want one. Right now. They just… look so beautiful.

    Reply
    • I wish I was that inspired. I just sat around here for ten minutes fixing a few typos in the post and refreshing my WordPress dashboard waiting for you to comment (I saw your “like” and just knew that you would comment). I kind of need some inspiration right now, if only to go to bed.

      Don’t they just? I would absolutely love to waste a book’s worth of money on a pen I may never use.

      Reply
      • I do the exact same time whenever I post something. For some reason I never notice some giant glaring typos until after I publish the post, no matter how many times I look over it beforehand.

        I’d probably make the mistake of bringing my fountain pen into school, bragging about to everyone I know, and then losing it by the end of the day.

      • Ach, I feel the same way. I lost my last good pen because I carried it around everywhere and it never stayed in my pocket. In fact, I lost one today like that. Perhaps this isn’t such a great idea.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  June 1, 2013

        My favorite pens are black ink Papermate, no grippers. Not that fountain pens don’t look cool. I have never owned a fountain pen.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  June 1, 2013

        You two need to get a pen like Percy Jackson’s– always returns to your pocket and turns into a sword.

      • I heard they sell those at Staples.

      • They sell Anaklusmos at Staples? Whoa.

      • I was just as shocked as you are when I found out.

        So have you watched The Doctor’s Wife yet?

      • How can I watch it?

      • You can’t.
        Hahahaha.
        I forgot you didn’t have Netflix. For some reason I assume everyone has it. Though if you want I can get you the DVD. All you have to do is give me a general direction, and I’ll just have to step outside and throw it to you. I have really good aim so it’ll probably reach you.

      • Not this again… I’ll try to see it somewhere.

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  June 2, 2013

        In that case, I’ll have to get to a Staples.

      • Exactly. Annoying, isn’t it, about the typos?

        And agreed about the inspiration, Matt.

  2. You are not the only one to fall prey to the Internet. Pinterest is one that gets me, and the Go Teen Writers Facebook group.

    I shall hold you to it. I have a couple ideas that might help you out, if you’d like to hear them.

    Reply
    • Ideas? Absolutely! (Not if it includes the Kamikaze setting of Writer or Die, though. I don’t want my work deleted.)

      Reply
      • Oh, heavens, not that. I’ve never done it myself, but I think I know someone who has. That’s just insane. It is so insane, my insane side won’t even try it.

        Okay, the following are ideas I’ve come up with myself for finding motivation to edit, and some others that have come to me.
        -Set a daily word goal for yourself and try to reach it BEFORE you get on the Internet. I did that a couple times during 100-for-100, and that was helpful.
        -Make a dire consequence for if you don’t make your word goal. (I’ve not kept my promise to my blog readers about reading a book a week so this is one I’ve been thinking about recently. Specifically writing a reeeaaaallly short story about a zombie romance. Just kill me now.)
        -Check out Erin’s post about the point system she created for herself to motivate her to write. I’ve been working on coming up with an editing version.
        -Compete with someone in word wars/other things that hold you accountable. I’m participating in NaNoCritMo, which started today, so I have a crit partner waiting on new chapters of my story. I’d suggest doing this with someone who will actually see it if you fail, and not just in a big group one could hide in. (Like on Twitter or whatever.) Make it so you have to keep your pride.

        That’s all I can think of at the moment, though no doubt I’ll think of more. My head has a tendency to do that. So I may be back with more.

        The only other thing I’ll say is this: don’t beat yourself up toooo horribly. My head has a tendency to do this also, sadly, going way over the top, and it just messes up your day (not to mention it too is a distraction from writing, ironic as that is.) Don’t go there. Learn from the regret, and move on. (Not that I’m very good at that yet.)

        Well, that was long. And hopefully helpful. At least it made me think of things I can do to be more productive.

        Oh, but if you want something not quite as drastic as the Kamikaze setting, you could always try Written? Kitten! *Grins maliciously.*

      • Also, in the past I have closed down all the Internet related programs on my computer before writing (browser, email, etc). I have even disconnected the computer from the Internet.

        Another interesting motivation site in 750word.com. The whole point is to get you to write 750 words a day, and you can write your stuff in their word processor thing, or you can just copy and paste (which is what I did the one time I played in that site). It also analyzes your writing and tells you cool stuff like emotion and most used words. Here’s what it said about what I wrote that one time: http://750words.com/person. (At least I think you should be able to see that.)

        However, as cool as it is, it might be another distraction. Not sure. You may want to think twice about using it.

      • HIS PRIDE. You’re a genius. 😉

      • Why, thank you. I thought that would be good motivation.

      • Thanks for all that. I will keep my pride, which is why I won’t try the kitten one.

        I couldn’t access that 750 words thing, but I’ll look into the site.

      • You are welcome, sir!

        I think you may have to be logged in as me to see it, which is why I wasn’t sure it would work. Oh well.

        Had another idea: Time limits are good. Today I told myself I couldn’t check email until a specific time, and that I could only spend five minutes on Pinterest. Seemed to help.

      • Thanks a lot!

  3. Robyn Hoode

     /  June 1, 2013

    First, we won’t clap you in irons and toss you in the brig. But we’ll flog you if you think that’ll help.
    Second, it’s not just you. I too fall prey to this. Let’s see if anyone else says the same.
    Third, I hold you to it. Finish Episode 5 by the end of June.

    Reply
    • I know it’s not just me. That’s why I posted it. If it only profited me, I wouldn’t have offered it to you.

      Thank you. The first section will go up in late June or 1st July.

      Reply
      • Robyn Hoode

         /  June 1, 2013

        I still have writing to do tonight…

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  June 1, 2013

        You’re welcome. 🙂

  4. We must have been Siamese twins in another life. Or I, like you, are simply a product of the darned internet.

    Reply
    • I hope I’m not a product of the internet, because that might imply that I can never escape it. I like to think that the internet has illegally repossessed my productivity for nefarious purposes.

      Reply
      • …until Interpol comes to intercept the internet’s illegal repossession of your productivity I’d say you’re screwed anyway. Sorry.
        You do, however, have an alternative that you can execute yourself – work offline. *gasp*

      • Oh. I thought my option was to execute myself.

        I need my word processor to do any sort of block writing. I can do paper writing, but it’s time consuming.

  5. George Hardwick

     /  June 1, 2013

    Yeah I always find myself in between sessions of writing 10 pages, and struggling with a half page. I never know what gets me in the mood, but I like it when it finds me. Stephen King said to sit down at the same time every day for about an hour or two to, “See if the creative muses come and visit”. Easier said than done. Nice post and good luck!

    Reply
  6. Procrastination can be a big trap…yep. But sometimes I think it’s okay to take a break. I haven’t written for 3 weeks. Yeah. I only have 7 billion new ideas. BUT. It was nice not having to feel guilty about checking blogs and learning how to use twitter (woah, twitter isn’t full of birds after all). Still. I’ve spent hours on Wikipedia trying to figure out if Warp Speed exists (thoughts are divided…and not just on Wikipedia. I looked up other sources, I swear! :P) I’m still trying to figure out if that was procrastination or research. *shrug*

    Reply
  7. You have your Wikipedia, I have my Pinterest. Same concept really. They both distract us from what we really ought to be doing. I’ll clap you in irons if you clap me in irons. It’s only fair.

    I’ll hold you accountable for finishing Episode 5. If you don’t, there will probably be a box of hedgehogs on your doorstep and you’ll find several quokkas making their home on your favorite chair.

    Reply
  8. Meredith Waugh

     /  June 2, 2013

    Unless writing is your career of choice, you needn’t be ashamed of distractions. Of course, if you have a set goal of how much to write daily, you should remain faithful to that goal. You seem to be cranking out an excessive daily word count already, so I see little cause for hearty shame. Trust me, everyone else falls into the same traps as you. Fountain pens? Why not? There’s nothing wrong with information, sir.
    You aren’t saying that reading and writing are the only things worthy of your time, are you? No one, not one, is immune to stupid distractions.

    Reply
    • “You aren’t saying that reading and writing are the only things worthy of your time, are you?” — Oooh, agreed, Meredith!

      Reply
      • Meredith Waugh

         /  June 2, 2013

        I’m glad to hear it, Amanda. You’re a genius 😉
        And, Liam, I’m not trying to say that you’re wrong or (heaven forbid) ignorant. I only want to encourage you.

      • Consider me encouraged, but I’ve spent way too much time not writing to call myself a writer. People who write are writers, yes? What is a person who doesn’t write?

      • Meredith Waugh

         /  June 2, 2013

        As I gather from what you have said in the past, you are revising Phil Phorce, blogging posts like these, and, if I am not mistaken, writing even more fantasy, as if that weren’t enough. I think you are a writer.
        “Being a writer” doesn’t depend on your word count, nor the hours you put in, nor even how many people have read your work. If you write, or have written, you are a writer. And you certainly fit the criteria.

      • So, by your definition, I could write a comment per day and call myself a writer? I could lie in my comments, furthermore, and call myself a fiction writer? Wow.

      • Meredith Waugh

         /  June 3, 2013

        Despite your desire to deny that you are a writer and/or prove me wrong, I do have proof that you are a writer. You have (recently) blogged a post right here on your blog.

      • Thus, I am a blogger. I’m not really disputing the fact that I am a writer– just the fact that I am a productive writer.

      • Meredith Waugh

         /  June 3, 2013

        Well, then, we are disputing under different contexts. Productivity isn’t necessary to be a writer. Take my case, for example: I consider myself a writer, but I have only produced a rough draft, several unrelated chapters, and settings and premises for future stories.

      • No, you’re right. Therefore, I amend whatever earlier statement I made: my goal for the future is to be a productive writer.

      • Meredith Waugh

         /  June 3, 2013

        That’s a good goal. To quote my second-favorite Disney monster, “simple, yet insane!”
        I’ll try to be a productive writer if you will.

      • I’m trying.

      • Meredith Waugh

         /  June 3, 2013

        Oh, great. Now someone is holding me accountable.

      • Mwahaha. 15 minute word sprint starting at :45?

      • Meredith Waugh

         /  June 3, 2013

        Sounds good. How long?

      • 15 minutes, remember? :45 to the hour. (For me it will be 3:45 to 4:00.)

      • Meredith Waugh

         /  June 3, 2013

        Okay. I’ll time myself… Starting NOW!

      • Done! How many words did you get?

      • Meredith Waugh

         /  June 3, 2013

        Don’t laugh; this is my first word sprint ever.
        330 words.

      • No problem. It’s hard to get a lot of words in fifteen minutes.

      • Meredith Waugh

         /  June 3, 2013

        What about you?

      • Oh, sorry– 450.

      • It’s very interesting watching people debate for once. As opposed to either a) starting a debate or b) participating in one.

        And good job, both of you.

  9. Liam, Liam, Liam. So much to say. First: is that the first time you’ve used those little picture things in one of your posts? Second: “Every procrastination, every distraction, every word in the Latin dictionary is there to keep you from doing everything you need to do. You need to write, or all this goes to waste.”–that paragraph smacked me in the face. Thanks, I think. Third: I agree with Matt. Fourth: listen to Gwily and SAVE YOUR PRIDE! We know now, and Quirk will never let you live this down if you fail.

    And I think I shall go deal with my characters. I have editing to do, and I really ought to have learned by now that if I just start, it will be so much easier to continue.

    Reply
    • I’m so glad that paragraph smacked you in the face! I made sure I was riled up so I would make myself heartily ashamed by the end. Thanks for the encouragement.

      Reply
  10. magicandwriting583

     /  June 2, 2013

    Oh boy. I have this problem, too. The YWP NaNoWriMo forums, my email(s), reading things, “research” that’s actually not researching anything important, and such. I’ve found, like a few others have mentioned, that turning off my internet connection works wonders. Most times.

    Now I’ll go try to stop procrastinating and go write….

    Reply
    • YWP NaNo forums were the worst, once. Now they’ve faded into nonexistence… almost. Other things have taken their place, unfortunately.

      Reply
      • magicandwriting583

         /  June 2, 2013

        Yeah. I forced myself to take a break from them, and now I have found new ways to procrastinate instead. We’re never going to get out of this trap, it seems.

      • The cure is the new disease.

      • magicandwriting583

         /  June 3, 2013

        Hehe, yeah, so it would seem.

  11. WOW
    I am having the same exact problems. Twitter has eaten my soul, bro.

    Reply
  12. Robyn Hoode

     /  June 5, 2013

    Question:
    You’re a pantser. You’ve said so. So… how do you know you’re on schedule for Episode 5 if you don’t outline? Do you have a word count goal? Do you have each chapter planned in your head? How are you know you’re on schedule?

    Reply
    • What else have I said? “The Phil Phorce [is] the periodical I write just for fun for the blog. I use it to test out writing styles, techniques, and as a source of critiques.” (Source: A Few Definitions page.) I decided, for episode 5, to test out an outlining technique. That technique includes a point-by-point sketch of the plot, as well as points of interest according to the Hollywood Formula. Thus, I can tell where I am in reference to everything else in the story. In addition to this, however, I know that I am writing part of it every day, so I know I’m making progress– that counts (for me) as being on schedule. Furthermore, each episode comes out to about 20 scenes, which with two scenes per post comes to about ten posts. I am currently writing scene 6. Furthermore, I could be lying.

      Reply
      • Robyn Hoode

         /  June 5, 2013

        Theoretically, we could all be lying, Head Phil.
        So, you have the basic plot skeleton and any interesting things that happen figured out?

      • Is that what I just told you? Then yes! If not, then no!

      • Robyn Hoode

         /  June 6, 2013

        Indeed.

  13. Ah, you make a post with all-too-pertinent a point, Liam. I spend my life telling myself I WILL write, and doing it very little, which is very silly. True, real life can account for some of the deficit, but the willpower to WRITE is something that ought to over-rule end of the day laziness, post exams or no.

    I shall keep this post in mind this summer, when now that I have escaped the clutches of the education system forever, I will truly have no excuse!

    Reply
  14. As someone who can also write about anything or nothing the day long, take 12 pages to accomplish it using 6 syllable vocabulary you’ve never encountered before while personally challenging myself to see how protracted I can actually make one sentence stretch, I can quite honestly and emphatically relate with your quandary.  Needless to say, I am now one of your most avid devotees !

    Reply

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