Tuesday, October 20, 2009

On Being a Pro-Crastinator

By Chester Campbell

My wife calls me a procrastinator. I say, heck, it's good to be a "pro" at something. But I suppose she's right in one respect. I should be writing on my current WIP (Work in Progress, for the uninitiated), but here I sit chatting up the blogosphere.

My Murderous Musings colleague Beth Terrell is getting ready to take part in NaNoWriMo, pounding out 50,000 words during the month of November. If I could mirror that feat with my fifth Greg McKenzie mystery, I'd be in high cotton, as they say in these parts. Since I'm currently at the 18,423-word mark, that would take me almost to 70,000 words. My books don't usually run much longer than that.

NaNoWriMo, as you may or may not know, is National Novel Writing Month, when authors around the globe are challenged to turn out 50,000 words of fiction in 30 days. The object is to take an idea and plug away at it, just to get all the words on paper, or in the computer. There's no time for editing. Just keep the pot (or plot) boiling. After all is done, you can go back and clean it up, patching the holes and prettying up the language.

As a procrastinator, I can't work like that. Each time I sit down, I have to go back over what I wrote last time out and make it sound better. Chances are I've had a new thought that requires me to go back and add something I neglected to do earlier. Like the other day I thought of a question the detective should have asked, so I backtracked to the proper spot in the story and beefed up the dialogue. Keeps readers from thinking why didn't the idiot pursue such-and-such?

My daily, when I can arrange it, walk at the mall provides a fertile time for thinking about the plot and searching out those holes that need to be filled. Sometimes I come up with ideas on new twists to put more strain on my poor protagonists. I'm a remorseless taskmaster. They don't get time to procrastinate.

But me? I have an excuse. I spent the past five days, including travel, atternding Bouchercon 2009, pushing my published work and trying to convince the good folks who read mysteries that I'm working on more to come. And I am. As soon as I finish this little tome, I'm heading for the living room and my laptop to plunge headlong into Chapter 13. Hmm, that's an ominous note. But what's even more ominous is that it will probably be nearly ten o'clock. That means local news, followed by a DVD recording of the early evening national news. Than it'll be bedtime. We have to arise at 6:15 to get grandson ready for school.

Okay, no more procrastination. As soon as he's off to school, I'm battening down the hatches (good old naval cliche) and battling away at the laptop. That's a promise. Unless something unforseen comes  up, of course.


Unknown said...

You are no procrastinator, Chester. I've never seen anybody get more done in less time than you. How you do it, I have no idea. How you keep up with it all and still have time for writing, I have no idea. In other words, I'm clueless. :)

Jaden Terrell said...

You don't seem like a procrastinator to me either, Chester. I do the same thing you do about having to go back and put in things that I've left out--and I have a hrd time ignoring distractions, too--but I never seem to get as much done. That's why I need NaNo!

It's nice to know that you, my hero, battle the same procrastination temptations.

Chester Campbell said...

From the comments, sounds like I'm a good impersonator. I'm impersonating a non-procrastinator.

Sheila Deeth said...

Written like a pro.

Jean Henry Mead said...

However you do it, Chester, your books are a good read. I write the same way. Reworking the previous chapter each morning gets me going and prevents writer's block.