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“Protecting Your Process” is a Process

Updated: Jul 16, 2021

I’m writing this post for myself more than anything because it’s dawning on me today that writing is more than writing. Thinking about your story is part of the writing process, too, isn’t it? Waiting for an idea to progress to a percolating, crystallizing scene, is writing, too. However, without setting yourself in the mindset to write, those waits to crystallized-moments-turned-flying-fingers-on-a-keyboard become longer and longer.

My problem is distraction. Not time. Surprisingly, I don’t feel short on time to write. I have a medical practice in the day and a writing practice in the early, early day. And even then, time is not the issue. But there is an issue and it’s distraction (all of my own creation). Like many people who do better under pressure, the sense that I have plenty of time is actually a self-sabotaging stress for me. And just like people who lean in that direction, I do my best work (I think) when I can feel that I’m running out of time. But I have to feel it.

So, I guess this post is a little brainstorming session? I'm wondering how I can trick myself into feeling time is running out because, well, it always is. Sometimes I tell my people (my patients) to put more on their schedules than less. So instead of allotting two hours of writing time, maybe I’ll say only have one hour, and then I’ve got to shut it down to meet some other obligation. You know what? As I’m writing that I know that’s not going to work.

I’m not going to lie to you and I’m not going to lie to myself. But I am laughing at myself.

I think part of my issue is that I’m discovering there are so many things that go into writing a book. It’s not just the story! It’s the ‘what happens after the story?’ It’s the ‘how can I make sure you see my story?!’ And I’m totally drawn in by the idea of making this website, and doing photos, and getting my book cover designed, or the story actually fully edited. And then what about beta readers?! It’s so deliciously mind- occupying. So right now, I’m letting myself be pulled all the way in by the those other prospects, too. I must admit it.

But I did have a schedule! I was supposed to finish this novel – and then abandon it for at least a month. Yep, a full month. Then come back and read it with fresher eyes that will (hopefully) catch gaps in the plot because, I don’t want YOU to say, “oh there’s a gap in the plot!” I don’t want you to have to do that kind of work. That would be distracting and not enjoyable and is not why people read books for leisure in the first place.

And please don’t misunderstand. I love this story. And I love where it’s going. And I love the people in it. But remember in that other blogpost where I said sometimes I feel stuck, like the characters know a secret I don’t? Yep, that’s happening right now. They’ll probably tell me in the next forty-eight hours or so. And I just realized why they’re doing this to me. They’re actually making me grow as a writer. Grow into better self-discipline. Grow into dedication to the characters. Grow in the ability to push through writer’s block. And even to remember the lesson I learned in a masterclass, on Masterclass, by Dan Brown. “Protect your process,” he said. And I’m not. At least not right now. And my characters are showing me that by refusing to speak to me while I’m in an admittedly distracted state of mind.

I’m going to make myself signs and home screens and lock screens and background screens and they’re all going to say “Protect your process.” So that when I wake up and log on, I’m not distracted by all the things there are in this webby world. I’m going try it. And then I’m going to tell you how it went. But not at a time when I’m supposed to be writing this novel!


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