Archive for March, 2022


Spring Fever

I seem to have developed a bad case of spring fever, but in me it works the opposite of the way it does most people. For a lot of people, spring gives them energy. They get happy about the end of winter and are excited about getting outdoors. They enjoy the time change that gives them extra daylight at the end of the day. I’m the weirdo who starts getting kind of glum. Spring seems to make me anxious and depressed, and the spring time change really messes with me.

I realized this was a pattern the other day when I was getting weirdly emotional about the Duolingo lesson. It was about employment, stuff like job applications, interviews, references, etc. That got me started wondering if I should look for a regular job while there’s apparently a lot of hiring going on and while costs are soaring. I could use a little more income, but I don’t know what kind of job I’d get. I haven’t had a regular job for twenty years, and my skills in my field are way out of date. Social media came along after I left the public relations world, and that’s the focus now, with traditional media dwindling. I have some valuable skills, but it would be hard to find a job using my skills that wouldn’t also require skills I don’t have. I was getting very glum about this while translating sentences about letters of recommendation into and out of Norwegian.

And then it struck me that it was around this time of year a few years ago that I had a total meltdown and decided I was going to quit writing entirely. It’s also been around this time of year that I’ve found myself researching things like travel industry jobs in Alaska and jobs at national parks. At this time of year, I seem to fall into gloom and despair about my life. It’s not a restlessness that makes me want to change. It’s more about feeling like I’m going to have to change because things can’t go on the way they are. I’m actually doing okay financially so far this year (though with the way real estate is going, I’ll never be able to buy another house and get out of this place), and I’m in the middle of the part of a project I like. I think it’s just this time of year.

It may have something to do with dreading the coming of hot weather. I don’t deal well with heat. I think the time change messes with me because there’s less darkness before bedtime and that makes it harder to wind down, and yet I’m waking up earlier, so I’m getting less sleep. The warmer weather means I have to take the weighted blanket off the bed, which means my sleep is less restful. And there are allergies that come with spring. Yesterday was particularly bad because we not only had pollen, but we were getting smoke from wildfires, and my eyes were burning so badly I could barely keep them open. It’s also tax season, when I have to really face my financial situation, and I always seem to be right on the line where if I make a bit more money, I have to pay enough more in taxes that I end up worse off than if I’d made a bit less money, so even the good news of having made more money turns into bad news. Plus there’s all the stress of dealing with it. That may be why I find myself pondering looking for jobs around this time of year.

I may make a note to myself in my calendar app for this time next year to remind myself that I get weird in late March and I should make no major plans or decisions at this time of year. It will pass, and I just need to be gentle with myself for a few weeks.


Recent Viewing

I’ve been keeping up my weekend movie night habit, but I’ve lost track of talking about them, so here are some thoughts on things I’ve watched recently, in no particular order:

A Fish Called Wanda — I needed a laugh, and I remembered this being very funny when I saw it at the theater when it first came out (I am old). It was still funny and quite an 80s time capsule, but not exactly the thing to watch when you’re a bit down because you’re losing faith in mankind, since even the “nice” people in this movie are fairly awful people. Still, brilliant writing and acting.

Weekend at Bernie’s — I guess I was on an 80s kick (and once I watched Wanda, Amazon started suggesting 80s movies). I remember wanting to see this when it came out because I thought the premise sounded fun, but I never did, and I’m not sure why. It came out during a summer when I was interning and had an apartment on my own in Austin (back in those days, apartments in Austin were dirt cheap over the summer. Times have changed), so there was nothing stopping me from seeing it. I went to a lot of movies alone that summer. Anyway, I finally saw it, and it didn’t quite live up to the premise. The core of the movie — the two guys pretending their dead boss is still alive because they’re afraid they’ll be killed if anyone realizes he’s dead while the assassin is going nuts because he’s sure he killed that guy — is rather brilliant and quite fun. But it’s a very small part of the movie. The movie’s only about 90 minutes long and we don’t even get Bernie killed until more than 30 minutes into the movie, and it’s another half hour or so before they learn their boss put a hit out on them and start really faking Bernie being alive. There’s a lot of padding with a romance subplot that doesn’t really add anything to the story. But, wow, the 80s vibes. It took me right back to my college years. The hair! The makeup! The clothes!

Ladies in Lavender — now for something a little more PBS-like. Two elderly spinsters during the 1930s find an injured young man washed up in front of their cottage on the Cornish coast and get a little too invested in him. That sounds like a horror movie, but it’s actually rather sweet. The guy is a Polish violinist who was on his way to America but ended up overboard from the ship, and the ladies want to support his dream, but fear they’ll lose him as one of them experiences her first crush late in life. Surprisingly, this gentle little movie was written (based on a short story) and directed by Charles Dance, perhaps best known now for playing Tywin Lannister. It has a great cast, starring Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. The young man looked really familiar, and it turns out he plays a villain in the Marvel movies, but he’s all grown up now.

Free Guy — This was the “restoring faith in humanity” movie I needed. I wasn’t sure about the idea of it, since it involves video games and I am not a gamer at all, but I was able to follow it well enough. In the world of a violent video game, one of the non-player characters becomes self-aware, falls in love with the avatar of one of the gamers, and starts being a hero in the game, doing good and stopping the violent acts, which inspires a worldwide movement in the real world — much to the chagrin of the guy who owns the video game company. He may destroy the game’s world unless that “Free Guy” can find the evidence the owner stole the code at the heart of the game. This movie is so sweet while also being fun and exciting. I found it oddly inspiring in the way it showed the impact of someone who does what he can to make the world better, one act of kindness at a time. At the same time, I felt like my lack of interest in video games was validated because that game didn’t look at all like fun to me.

West Side Story (the new one) — I love the original version. I have that soundtrack on cassette. I’ve seen the movie so many times, including on the big screen (thanks to the campus theater when I was in college). I’ve also seen numerous productions of the stage show. But I was intrigued by what could be done in a remake, and I was really impressed. The film is beautiful to watch, and the performances are terrific. I think the music is better than in the original. It was a little weird seeing something that was so familiar and yet so different. They took the basic story and the music and wrote a new script, in consultation with experts on the Puerto Rican community in New York in that time period, and I think the story works much better now. I intend to get this one on DVD so I can watch it whenever without worrying about whether it will stay on Disney+. I’d thought that this might be one Spielberg movie that didn’t involve John Williams, but it turns out that he consulted on the score because he was the pianist in the score for the original version!

Turning Red — A 13-year old girl from a Chinese immigrant family in Toronto in the early 2000s finds that her family has an interesting blessing/curse: upon puberty, the women turn into a giant red panda when they get emotional. Her overprotective mother intends to do a ritual that will remove the panda, but that’s the same night as the concert by the hot boy band the girl and her friends are determined to attend, whether or not their parents let them go. And she actually kind of likes the panda and isn’t sure she wants to get rid of it. It’s Pixar, so it’s sweet, funny, emotional, and has a universal emotional core even if it’s about a specific group of people. I’m from a different era and ethnicity and my parents weren’t nearly that overprotective, but it reminded me of my 7th grade year when I was 12. My friends and I were obsessing over Star Wars instead of a boy band, but otherwise the things they did at school and the way they talked about their obsession were all so familiar. The heroine even carried the same flute case I have (that I had then). There were a few moments when I was dying of secondhand embarrassment, but that was the universal part. Even if your parents didn’t go that far, when you were that age you probably felt that way because you feared you’d get embarrassed.

The Sword in the Stone — I don’t think I’d ever seen this Disney classic all the way through. There were scenes that were familiar that I know I’ve seen, but the rest was entirely unfamiliar. I know the story, of course, and I’ve even read the book it was based on. I’m not sure how well it holds up. It’s rather episodic, just a series of events rather than there being any kind of narrative drive. It was still cute and funny, and there’s always the game of finding the spots where they reused bits of animation from other movies that you can play with Disney films from that era.

Now I have to think of something to watch this weekend. I’m not sure what I’m in the mood for.


Adjusting the Process

I’ve made a start on the new book. It was a little slower than I’d hoped to get going, but that was mostly because I made an abrupt change in plans just before I started writing.

I’m adding something new to my process with this book. I’m journaling the book as I write it. I’ve been journaling for a few years. I sit at the table after breakfast in the morning with a cup of tea and do a bit of a brain dump, just getting all those swirling thoughts out of my head. A few months ago, I read an article about how doing that in the evening helps with sleep, so I switched journaling times, and it did seem to help with those random thoughts that wake me up during the night. But I really like that time sitting at the table in the morning. It’s not so much procrastination as it is enjoying that time, but it was delaying my work day. I read another article about journaling your book, doing some freewriting by hand before you start your writing day, hashing out your thoughts about the book. I’ve been doing brainstorming that way, and then as I prepared to start writing, on Monday morning I journaled about the scene I was going to write.

It seems to have worked pretty well because I had a burst of insight. I had two events happening independently, but I realized that the event in the first scene should actually cause the event of the next scene, but then that involved reworking a couple of scenes and even cutting a planned scene. So I spent more than an hour working all that out before I sat down and got to work.

I’m having the usual feeling of the perfect, wonderful book in my head being like a child’s stick figure drawing once I start writing. I’ve had to go back and put in some things I’d planned and forgot. I’ll need to add more description and emotion, as usual. I can picture the settings, but I can’t seem to find places to really set the stage because I’m too focused on what the characters are doing and saying.

But I can do that in the next draft. Right now, I’m getting the action down, and it’s fun having all these insights that make the story stronger, even if they do require rethinking things. Just this morning, that journaling gave me the solution to a problem I was struggling with. I was trying to figure out who should be present for a scene. Either way, there were benefits but also potential problems, and the solution came to me as I wrote about my dilemma.


Ready to Begin

I think I’ve done about all the prep work I can possibly do, so on Monday I will start writing this book. It’s both exciting and scary. I’ve been thinking about this story for more than two years. I spent much of that time doing research reading and some brainstorming, then started the serious character and plot work around the beginning of this year. Now I think anything else I do will just be procrastination, and not the good kind that allows me to develop the story in more depth.

One way that I know it’s time to start writing is that I’ve been dreaming this story. I’ve had dreams in the past that give me ideas that fit into this book or this series, but the other night I was dreaming actual scenes that I’d already plotted. In some of the dream, I was seeing the “movie” and hearing the narration of the book, but in some of it I was one of the characters. I did try to insert an additional (and unnecessary) character in one of the dreams, but otherwise, it was right out of my notes.

Which means I know at least the first three scenes to write, so I should get off to a good start.

Today and this weekend I’m trying to get my life ready for it to get taken over by writing. I’m taking care of errands, getting groceries, doing housework and laundry, and I hope to make a couple of meals that will provide me with plenty of leftovers so I won’t have to do a lot of cooking. I’m bad about going all-or-nothing when I get into a book, so I get nothing else done while I’m writing. I’m going to try for a bit more work/life balance, but I want to take advantage of the surge of initial enthusiasm. I’m aiming for a relaxing and restful Sunday so I’ll be ready to dive in.

So, very soon I will actually meet these characters on the page as the story goes from thought to actual words. This is where those writing exercises to find the voice help because I’ve “met” the characters outside the text of the actual book, and that makes it a little less momentous to start writing them. Even so, writing those first words after all the preparation is a bit like standing at the top of a steep ski slope, ready to fling yourself down a mountain.


Putting it All Together

I’m in the “putting it all together” phase of my writing preparation. I’ve got the world built. I’ve got my major characters and their relationships to each other figured out. I’ve got the plot outlined, which has led to new characters being created. I’ve got a rough skeleton of possible scenes, with some more developed than others.

The main thing I need to do now is find the “voice” for this book. It’s going to have multiple viewpoints, so I think it will be written in third person, which is unusual for me. I love first person narration, but it just won’t work with this story. So I need to find the narrative voice for each character’s viewpoint. I do that by doing some freewriting exercises, just picking some random event that’s probably not going to end up in the book and writing how that scene might be told from that character’s perspective. I use scenes that won’t end up in the book so that I won’t feel stuck with that scene the way it is. I can play with style until I find what I like and then not have to worry about editing that scene to fit into the final story.

I also need to drill into specifics for the settings that I’m likely to need for the scenes I have planned. What, precisely, does it look like? What colors are there in these rooms, is there carpet on the floors, what does the place smell like, etc. Once I get started writing the story, I don’t think about these things, and I find the details are more likely to find their way in to the book if I’ve planned them in advance and worked them into my mental movie. When I haven’t pictured the settings, the scenes tend to take place in a void in my head, and it’s harder to figure out the details and add them later.

There’s going to be a lot of daydreaming this week because a lot of this comes from just imagining. I’m fine tuning my mental movie.

I’ll be doing more intense development of the first few scenes, too. I had a big breakthrough yesterday with the opening scene when I figured out what was really going on, and that turned the scene on its head and set up something great for later in the story. I love it when things like that happen.


Plotting and Structure

I’m still working on plotting, so I thought I’d talk a little more about the process there. Plotting is one of my weaknesses and always has been, so I have to work extra hard on it. My early attempts at writing all failed because I’d come up with characters and interesting situations for them to be in that were full of potential conflicts—and then had no idea where to go from there. I was good at coming up with people who could do things and situations in which things could happen, but couldn’t come up with actual, specific things to happen to create a story. Because my situations were so fleshed out, I thought that meant the story would be obvious and would come easily, and then I’d start writing, get about three chapters, and have no idea what should happen next.

Some people are lucky enough to be able to plot instinctively. They just start writing a scene, have it end with some kind of consequence that propels the action to the next scene, and so forth, and it all falls together. I am not that kind of writer. I need some kind of structure or framework to give me an idea for things that can happen, and from there I can fill in specific scenes.

There are a lot of story structure charts out there, and most of them boil down to different ways of saying the same thing (for Western/European culture-based storytelling—there are non-Western story structures that are very different). There’s the three-act structure, the story circle, the plot snowflake, Save the Cat, the Hero’s Journey, the Heroine’s Journey, and a bunch of others. Just about every writing book has its own story structure chart or worksheet that labels the different steps in a plot. Some are better suited or even designed for a certain kind of story. Some speak better to some writers than to others.

Which one do I use? All of them!

I do find that some structures work better with some stories, but it’s hard to tell which one will click into place until I try it. I have a binder full of these worksheets that I save from workshops or from notes I take while reading a book on writing, and when I’m plotting a book, I’ll work through them. I find that there’s usually one method that really suits each book, and I use that for my core plotting, but going through each one makes me look at my story from multiple angles and gives me different ideas for scenes. For instance, I’d gone through about four different plot outlines for this book, but then this morning I got out my Save the Cat book, and that story outline has already helped me flesh out some blanks that were in my outline because there are Save the Cat story beats that fall between the turning points in the other outlines I was using. It’s given me some good ideas for scenes.

One other thing I do is outline the plot for both the protagonist and the antagonist. After I’ve got a good outline for the hero, I turn it around and pretend the villain is the main character, outlining the book from that character’s perspective. That’s a good way to figure out what the villains are up to, even when they’re offstage and working in the background. Then I know what the villains’ plans might be and what the hero will have to react to. Some of the structures are better suited to this than others. The ones that focus on character transformation don’t work too well, unless you’re going to redeem your villain. Or, I suppose you could have the opportunities for realization and transformation that the character doesn’t take.

I might also do some brief outlines for the secondary characters whose actions might affect the plot or who have a subplot of their own. The book I’m working on now is going to have multiple viewpoints, so I need to plot the stories of the various viewpoint characters and then weave that into the main plot.

You don’t have to get too obsessive with structure. It’s a framework to hang scenes upon, so don’t twist your story around to slavishly adhere to some plot structure worksheet if your story doesn’t fit. You may not hit all the beats of every structure. However, if you find that your story doesn’t fit anything and you’re missing most of the major beats or turning points, you might need to develop your story or your characters a little more.

I like screenplay structures, but keep in mind that screenplay structure is different from novel structure, so you’re not going to hit the page numbers they do or even the proportions. The difference in the storytelling media means it takes a different amount of pages to tell the same story visually as opposed to in text. For instance, a movie can convey visually in a second or two what it might take paragraphs or pages to describe in a novel. There are also more “rules” for writing in Hollywood than there are for novels. Movie studios expect a particular structure, with events happening at certain points within a movie, and publishers just care about whether a novel is interesting all the way through. So, don’t get too hung up on all the advice in screenwriting books.

I also find that my outline may or may not hold up as I write. I may discover things along the way and change my mind, but that may also have something to do with the fact that I let myself get vague about events later in the book. With this book that I’m putting a lot more development effort into, it may be different.



I’ve wrapped up the character development phase for this book (except for characters who come up as I plot or write) and have moved on toward plotting. When it comes to the plotting (planning the book before writing it) vs. “pantsing” (writing by the seat of the pants, making it up as you go) debate, I generally end up being both, the worst of both worlds.

I have to have a general sense of the plot before I can write. I at least need to know the major turning points. But most of the time, I don’t really know what the book is actually about until I’ve written it, and once I get close to the ending, I realize I have no idea where it’s actually going because what I thought was an outline was way too vague. Then I have to do extensive revisions to mold the resulting mess into something resembling a story.

I’m trying to do something different with this book and do some extensive outlining. One thing I’ve realized might be my problem is that my outline is more about ideas than scenes, which means there’s nothing concrete or specific. The final confrontation is usually just “final confrontation” in my outline. I may have a sense of what’s going on emotionally with the characters in this scene and what choices they’ll have to make, but I don’t know where it happens, exactly how it happens, how they get there, what it looks like. The farther I am from the beginning, the worse it is. I usually have about the first three or four chapters planned in detail. I have scenes worked out, even bits of dialogue. Then once I’m really into the actual story, beyond the setup, I have a few events. Closer to the end, it’s more vague concepts.

When I started the plotting process on this book, it was exactly like that. I thought I had a lot of detail, but all I really had in any concrete form was the setup. It went vague at the first turning point. So, I started with the ending—what does the final confrontation look like? I worked that out, and then went to the previous scene, to see how we were getting to that final confrontation. I’ve also worked out how the midpoint scene will go. I’ve still got gaps, but it helps to have those big scenes planned. When I’m writing and hit a big point without knowing what will happen, I often go with the first thing that comes to mind, so I get something obvious or trite. Thinking about it ahead of time is giving me a chance to go deeper. It also means I know what I’m going to need to set up earlier in the story.

I’m spending this week doing heavy-duty plot brainstorming, then I’ll put my outline aside over the weekend and come back to it next week to see if I can add to it or improve it. I’m getting really close to the actual writing part, but I’m forcing myself not to get too impatient.

publishing business


The big news in the book world this week was Brandon Sanderson’s Kickstarter campaign that basically broke the Internet and Kickstarter. The last I heard, he’d raised more than 20 million dollars in only a few days. He announced that he’d written four extra books during the pandemic, during the time he usually would have been traveling to book events and conventions. Now he’s offering these books at various tiers, from e-book to a subscription box with monthly stuff and special hardcover editions of the books. This has had a lot of authors (and publishers, I’m sure) considering the possibilities.

I haven’t tried doing any kind of crowdfunding because the fulfillment would be time consuming. When I publish a book, I just send it to the booksellers, and they take care of getting it to readers. With a Kickstarter, I’d have to buy the books and then mail them out. Sanderson has an infrastructure and staff for this sort of thing (and likely will use a fulfillment house to actually put the boxes together and send them out). I doubt I’d sell enough to make a fulfillment house worthwhile, and I don’t really want to spend my evenings filling and labeling boxes. Doing a Kickstarter takes either time or money. I wouldn’t rake in that kind of money, and I don’t really have the time. For the release of one of the Enchanted, Inc. books, I did a mailing to a list of targeted booksellers, introducing the series and sending some bookmarks they could hand out to customers. I don’t think there were more than 50 on the list, and just printing, signing, and folding the letters and stuffing and labeling the envelopes took me at least a week of evenings. For the release of Rebel Mechanics, the publisher sold it to a subscription box, so I had to sign 700 book plates to put in those books, and that took me days.

I can’t even imagine the workload that would come with selling enough things to raise millions. In my PR days, I worked on the launch of the cellular network now known as Verizon. Back then, a “cell phone” was something expensive that businessmen used to make important calls. They were launching a different kind of network (digital) that would be used for everyday things, so the launch event was a pizza party. The executive would make the first call on the network to order pizza. The invitations to the press and VIPs were sent in pizza boxes, and our staff got to spend a weekend putting those packages together. (I did not get pizza. I had to work in the company’s PR office that day so their PR people could go to the event. And then there was a bomb threat at their headquarters, so I spent most of the day standing in the parking lot after they evacuated the building. This is one of the reasons I write books now instead.)

I also haven’t tried to do any other kind of crowdfunding thing, like Patreon. I can’t get 300 people to subscribe to my newsletter for free, so I can’t imagine getting anyone to pay any kind of monthly fee, and I have no idea what I’d offer to subscribers. I can’t come up with something to put in a newsletter most of the time, and my fiction writing goes into my books. It seems that my fan base just wants to read books. They don’t subscribe to newsletters or do social media, or anything like that, so the best use of my time is writing. Not that I could write four extra books of the length Sanderson writes. I wrote three short books last year and just about burned out (though I don’t know how much of that was the writing itself, what I was writing, or the general state of the world and having almost no social interaction).

So, don’t be looking for a Kickstarter from me. But buying my books would be nice. Ideally, I could get back into traditional publishing and have a publisher deal with all the business stuff so I wouldn’t even have the up-front expenses, but they don’t really want me, so I guess I’ll keep doing what I’m doing and hope it works.



Constructive Procrastination

I sometimes joke about finding ways to label things I do for fun “work” and consider it part of my process, calling this “advanced procrastination techniques.” But the truth is that procrastination isn’t always a bad thing when it comes to creative endeavors.

Our society is bad about prioritizing productivity. Work doesn’t feel like work unless you’ve got something to show for it. If you don’t have a word count, are you really writing? But I’ve found that the longer the span between the first spark of the idea and the time I start actually writing, the better the outcome. Although I get a lot of valuable information from research, intensive character development, “casting” characters and watching movies and shows with my cast members, coming up with playlists, etc., I think the main value comes from feeding my subconscious and giving it time to work so that the idea is more fully formed and developed before I start putting words on paper (or screen). Once I actually start composing the text, that seems to lock things in place. Even though I can still edit and rewrite, the story doesn’t seem as malleable once I put it into words.

For instance, I’ve been visualizing the opening scene of the book I’m developing for at least a year. I see the “movie” in my head, and I keep making little tweaks as I keep thinking about it and how it will fit into the book. This week, I came up with a new character who’ll be involved in that scene (just by thinking about the logistics of who will be there), and this character’s presence completely shifted the scene, plus it brought about a question I hadn’t considered that may somewhat adjust the plot. If I’d written this scene down when I first thought of it instead of just replaying it over and over again in my head, I’m not sure I would have realized this thing. I might not have realized that this character needed to be in the scene, or I’d have come up with a different character to fill that role. My editing and rewriting would have been fixing that original scene, not coming up with something different. Giving my mind time to play with it before I committed to the scene probably means the book will be better than it would have been if I hadn’t been “procrastinating.”

There are a lot of ways to do constructive procrastination. One is to do work related to the book that doesn’t involve actually writing the words. That’s stuff like research, filling out character worksheets, brainstorming, mind mapping, making playlists of your story’s “soundtrack,” watching things that remind you of the story, setting, or cast, doing writing exercises, etc. These are all things that may help develop the story while also giving your mind time to play with it. To fight that sense that I’m not really being productive since I have no word count, I use a stopwatch to track the amount of time I’m spending on these activities.

Then there’s physical or mindless activity that’s entirely unrelated but that gives your mind a chance to play in the background. Long walks are excellent for creativity. Some of the best ideas come while taking showers. Housework and organizing may look like procrastination, but you can do a lot of high-quality thinking while washing dishes.

How do you know when you’ve crossed the line from constructive procrastination to plain old procrastination? I think one sign is when the thing you’re doing to procrastinate doesn’t have any value in and of itself and doesn’t make you feel better. When you can make a direct link to your project or when you get something else out of it, like exercise or a clean house, it’s probably still constructive. If it’s bad for you (like spending a whole day eating junk food and binge watching that’s not sparking any ideas) and doesn’t leave you better off than you were before, it may be ordinary procrastination.

I find that I know when a story is ready for me to start writing it. There are two peaks of enthusiasm. One comes when I first get the idea and I’m so excited about it that I want to drop whatever else I’m doing to work on it right away—I call that Shiny New Idea Syndrome because any new idea is going to be more exciting than the project in progress. Writing down what I know about the idea generally shows me that there’s not much to it yet and I don’t need to start writing it. Then there’s all the research and development, planning and plotting, and I finally get to the point where I’m seeing the “movie” in my head. I’m hearing distinct voices for my characters, seeing them vividly, noticing details in the scenes I see, and I’m getting so excited about it that I can’t wait to see how it all comes together in a book. I want to be able to read this book. That’s when I know it’s time to start writing. There’s a little fear about starting and committing to a direction, but it’s outweighed by wanting to get into this world and play.

Constructive procrastination can come up again during the writing process if I get stuck or reach a turning point and want to really consider what comes next. Then I may do some of my usual pre-writing activities or I may take a break and take a walk or do housework so I can mull it over. This is when I have to be really careful about the difference between constructive procrastination and regular procrastination. Do I really need to think about this, or am I just avoiding it because it’s hard?

All of this presumes no deadlines, of course. I usually only do this extreme level of preparation for the first book in a series. After that, they come more quickly because I’ve already got the world and most of the characters in my head.