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How Much Of Good Writing Is In The Timing?

Good timing

by Jennifer on June 8, 2011

This is a guest post from Jamie Raintree of JamieRaintree.com.

I’ve put off writing this blog post for about two weeks now.  I came up with the perfect idea two weeks before that.  But today felt like the right day to finally sit down and write it.

Let me tell you a story.

I have been working on a fictional blog project for six months.  Twenty-thousand words over a six month period?  Yeah, some procrastination was involved.

I loved the story.

Whenever I finally picked it up again, I would write late into the night no matter how early I had to get up the next morning.  But then, of course, work happened, parenting happened, other writing projects happened, and it seemed the longer I went without working on it, the longer I could go without thinking about it at all.

Finally, I finished my novel, and all my blog posts were written, and the busy work week had passed.  I had time to come back to my story.

I put it on my to-do list for the week but it never got written.  It rolled over to the following week but Monday flew by, I was tired on Tuesday, I had a friend over on Wednesday.  Thursday was…wait, what was my excuse for Thursday?  I got fed up with myself.

My schedule blew to pieces on Friday too so I figured, there’s no time like the present.  I took my laptop to Wendy’s (no wifi), silenced the baby with chicken nuggets and finished the fictional post in 45 minutes.

All that procrastination…45 minutes of writing.

Procrastination For Nothing?
I felt guilty.  I felt silly.  I felt like my laptop should have been taken from me and “non-writer” stamped on my forehead.  But honestly, up until an hour before I sat down to write, I had no idea how I wanted to finish that chapter.  I had been going over it in my mind for days, wracking my brain in front of my open Word document without a clue.

When I finally forced myself to write, it flowed like the Niagra Falls.  It was perfect.  I wondered, if I’d finished it the week before, the day before, or even the hour before, would I have written the same story?

Is Timing Everything?
Last night I watched the movie Hereafter, starring Matt Damon (which may or may not have been a deciding factor in adding it to my queue).  One of the themes of the movie was timing—the idea that a single decision or delay could be the difference between crossing paths with your fate or missing it entirely.

Whether or not you believe in fate, I’m sure everyone has felt that timing played a role in where your job, or your love or your life has ended up.

I like to think of my story as its own being, walking around out there, waiting to bump into me and seal my writerly fate.

I truly believe timing plays a huge role in writing.  No, not writing—in your story.  Everyone can write at any time of life, any time of the week, or any time of day, but sometimes it really isn’t time for that story or chapter or scene.  Sometimes you haven’t come face to face with your story yet.

I’m not encouraging procrastination, by any means.  I think this theory could just as easily go the other way.  What I’m saying is that sometimes you have to force yourself to sit down and write, and sometimes you have to trust that your mind is telling you today is not the day for your story.

Procrastination happens.  There’s no need to beat yourself up about it.  I would argue that sometimes procrastination is exactly what your story needs.  Just make sure you listen when inspiration finally knocks, or stands in front of you in line at the coffee shop, or is printed in today’s newspaper.  It’s probably the fate of your story crossing your path.  It’s probably time to write it.

Have you felt the “fate” in your writing?  Have you ever had an idea simmering but it wasn’t until that last little detail fell into your lap that you finally felt ready to put it on paper?

About The Author: Jamie Raintree is a women’s fiction writer, wife and mother of a 1-year-old daughter. Check out her blog, JamieRaintree.com for writing craft posts, fictional blogs web design for writers, and her writing adventures. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.

Note: I’m on a blogging break until September. Each week throughout the summer I’ll be sharing guest posts from different writers. If you’d like to guest post for this blog, send your idea to: jennifer@procrastinatingwriters.com.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mallory Snow June 8, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Thank you so much for having me today, Jennifer!

2 Rachel Law June 8, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Fabulous post Mallory! I love the analogy of “bumping into” your story; it rings true. My most productive writing time doesn’t come when I say “time to sit and write now,” but when I’ve been thinking and brainstorming all day and then I can finally unleash it all on the screen.

3 Deborah June 8, 2011 at 4:58 pm

This is great post!! I’m so guilty of procrastination but I’ve never ever viewed it as perhaps a good thing. Its a great way to look at it, as opposed to beating myself up over it.

Thanks for having Mallory! I love her blogs and read every single one!

4 Judy S June 8, 2011 at 8:40 pm

Very interesting post Mallory – thanks for inviting her to post Jennifer!

Several years ago I looked back on several events in my life and realized that they all happened in a certain order and time of my life for a specific reason.

I also discovered that in the creative realm of my life, about 75% of my existence, I needed to trust myself. Just because I may not be able to put words on the monitor, paint on the walls or sketches on my paper, it doesn’t mean that my subconscious isn’t zipping along at a million miles an hour, painstakingly working out all the details while my conscious is busy dealing with daily life. When the time was right, the creativity would spill forth. Any attempt on my part to force it was met with aggravation, failure and an intense fear that I could no longer do whatever it was I was trying to do.

After years of being afraid to trust myself, I finally did and was amazed at the results. Not only were they beyond my expectations, but they flowed out my fingertips with minimal resistance, and deadlines were met!! That’s not to say that edits and rewrites aren’t a large part of my writing life, but they, along with all my other creative endeavors, are so much more enjoyable when the time is right!

5 Mallory Snow June 9, 2011 at 1:12 am

Rachel, agreed. I like to ruminate over my story for a while and let everything work itself it out before it’s time to sit down and write. And sometimes that takes longer than others! 🙂

Deborah, thank you so much for checking out my post! Beating yourself up usually just makes it worse from my own experience. It makes me discouraged and then I miss another day of writing. Try to focus on what you do accomplish and let go of the things you don’t.

Judy, I love the image of my subconscious working like a bunch of cogs back there, trying to spit something out. 😉 I think you’re right about trust playing a role. It’s the doubts that make procrastination unbearable. If we trusted ourselves to know that the right time was coming, I’m sure it would be a lot easier! Thanks for stopping by!

6 Riles June 9, 2011 at 2:13 am

I know that sometimes when I procrastinate, I find out it’s because something in the story I’m writing isn’t quite figured out, it’s not quite right and if I try to force it anyways, story turns into mush. But if I rest on it, work on other things… totally get the flow.

Sometimes waiting on things and certain scenes is necessary. Great points! I used to stress out major and beat myself out for not meeting whatever daily writing quota…lol

Thanks, hope you have a wonderful day

7 Anne R. Allen June 9, 2011 at 11:57 am

I so totally agree with this! You can’t force a story. It comes when it’s ready to be born. The trick is to let it gestate your subconscious and then let it out–just the way you did. Forcing the words before it’s ready and the story will be stillborn: wooden and lifeless.

8 Joan Leacott June 9, 2011 at 4:26 pm

I had all these marvelous, ambitious goals set for this year. But the story all the goals rested on wouldn’t gel in my mind. I had to wait for each little piece, talk to my writer pals, my husband, the bird outside my window, stand on my head and wiggle my toes, etc, etc. Finally, an enforced period of empty hands during a long drive brought out a major flaw in my plot. Fixing the plot was easy as I was still in the outlining phase. But, good grief, the agony of waiting wore me down. Thanks for the validation–I wasn’t procrastinating, I was waiting for the idea bus to come along!

9 Mallory Snow June 10, 2011 at 8:05 pm

Riles, I still do that more often than I’d like. It’s good to remind ourselves that aren’t can’t be forced.

Anne, I agree completely. I think readers can feel when you have trouble with a scene. We lose a bit of our voice.

Joan, the idea bus! That’s hysterical. Where do I buy my ticket? 😉

10 Mallory Snow June 10, 2011 at 8:06 pm

Riles, I meant, art can’t be forced. And neither can blog comments, apparently. 😉

11 L.Horton June 12, 2011 at 9:24 am

Very cute! I really like how you expressed that the days go by sort of piddled away without really knowing what it was that stopped you from writing. I’m not an actual writer but I did start a daily blog just to inspire me to get the extra stuff done in my life and stop putting things off. Thank you for your article!


12 Mallory Snow June 12, 2011 at 4:12 pm

L. Horton, all the same procrastinating rules still apply. 🙂 In fact, often times I’ll procrastinate on my blog more than my Work in Progress. But I do find that my blog keeps me on track during the week. I hope yours is doing the same for you!

13 Vincent June 14, 2011 at 12:32 am

You’re right sometimes we do feel – it’s just isn’t the day. I use to post my posts irrespective of the inspirational feel and look where I ended up!!! Almost a year’s gap 🙁

Nowadays, I just surf on the internet to read posts, online newspaper and that’s it. My day starts with reading online newspaper and then visit this blog everyday to see when the new post is up. I do not get time. yes! I know what you wrote on timing but still “the BUTT is always there :-P”

14 Mallory Snow June 15, 2011 at 1:41 am

Vincent, I hope you find your inspiration again soon!

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