Tuesday, February 05, 2008

No excuses

I'm stalled out a bit. I couldn't think of what to write today, which is a reflection of the fact that I haven't been writing.

I've been thinking about writing. I've been planning and outlining and daydreaming, but I haven't been typing up pages.

I'm about ten pages from finishing the first draft of Not Dead Yet, the infamous zombie story, but I can't seem to get up the energy to finish.

"I'll do it on Sunday," I say to myself. But Sunday rolls around and I type up three lines of dialogue and then run off to buy groceries, done for the day with creativity.

I have testing today, all day. I give out a test and read some instructions and sit in front of my computer for five hours with nothing else to do.

But still I don't finish it. Oh, I wrote a scene for the Rouge Wave's Valentine's Day contest, so it's not like I'm blocked.

It's more like I'm afraid to finish the script. This is the first script I've ever written on my own that I've felt completely solid about. I did everything right. Not that I don't have any mistakes or that I won't rewrite the hell out of it, but I just feel good about the story and the characters and the themes and everything, more so than I've ever felt about another full length feature.

I've written like seven features by now, but none of them make me as happy as this one.

But I won't finish it.

Because what if when I finish it the happy goes away?

What if I finish it and it's not as good as I think it is? What if I read through it to do my first edit and realize it's garbage and I have to start all over? What if all these things I think I did right just serve to prove what a lousy, uninspired writer I am and that I'm totally deluded?

So I don't finish it.

At night I think about it. I keep telling myself I'm tweaking it, that I need to know exactly what those last scenes are going to look like before I type them up.

But that's a lie. I already know what I'm going to do as much as I need to before I let the page tell me where to go. I know how this story ends - zombies on fire and a daring escape - but I refuse to get there.

As long as it's not finished it can't suck. Because I'm a pussy.

So tomorrow I stop being a pussy. I'm not afraid of zombies. Tomorrow I have a whole day to sit in this frigid room and fight zombies while my students take their standardized math test.

I prefer to listen to music but I can't listen to music tomorrow. Oh well. That's an excuse and I'm not having excuses anymore. I'll just have to hear the music in my head.

No excuses. Only writing. And if it sucks, so be it. That's what editing is for.


  1. Anonymous3:05 PM

    Ah. The writer's duality.

    Everything we write is both the greatest thing put to paper at the same time as not being worth the paper it's printed on.

  2. Anonymous4:29 PM

    Just go balls out and finish it, then get someone that's really nice (or the kind of person that laughs at everything anyone says) to read it to pump you up for the rewrites. Or just tell yourself it's some silly little story so you don't feel so much pressure. Good luck.


  3. Emily, thanks for your naked honesty. I too have had scripts I've written that I loved soo much that I didn't want to leave them. Thought they were soo good that I'd never write anything THAT good again, thus I wanted to camp out on that script. Eventually you have to move on, but at least you're proud of your work. THAT means alot.

    I too don't physically bang out pages in Final Draft like sometimes the annalytical, bean counting, side of my brain thinks I should. BUT writing is more than meeting a quota. It's about solving story's problems. THAT may be part of the reason you're stalling Emily; your thinking out your stories and characters issues. And if that's the case. That is VERY normal for story construction.

    To return the brutal honesty, I fear going to the keyboard and having nothing to say. THAT'S why I index card, outline and write myself a TON of notes about scenes and characters. Preperation EASES my own writing fears.

    GREAT POST, but that's pretty much status quo for you, as (for the most part) everything that comes out of your brain ROCKS!

    - E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

  4. Once again, thanks for the compliment - and by the way, it's completely okay if you don't compliment - but it really has nothing to do with index carding or character.

    I've long since resolved the character and plot issues. Like I said in the post, this is purely a psychological block, one that I will pass through, one that pretty much all of us go through at one time or another.

  5. Anonymous10:38 AM


    but seriously. I got the same way when i was nearing the end of my first book and again when the editing was almost done and I was going to have to...gulp...start submitting it. Youll be fine, youll get past it and youll be better for it.

  6. Anonymous10:44 AM

    I've been reading your site for a little while (I found you on fark) and I am intrigued with your Zombie story. I hope you finish it soon, because I would like to read it.

  7. Anonymous10:46 AM

    I'm glad I'm not the only one with the ability to procrastinate. I'm sitting here typing away a response on a blog while I have a major deadline in about 3 hours. And I've barely gotten started. I think I procrastinate until I'm simply forced to start writing or I can't possibly get finished in time and if I don't I'll get fired. Or yelled at. A looming deadline forces decision-making.

    I need to get to work now.

  8. Anonymous5:48 PM

    Hey there! I just found your blog. I'm a writer also, so I'll be checking this out more often. I may add you to my blogroll if that's OK. :-) It's good to see what fellow writers are working on!

  9. Finish it. Put it away for two weeks. Then read it anew.

    But finish!

  10. Ahhh good old Act 3 paralysis. I've found myself so crippled by this that I actually had a draft rot on the shelf for two years, unable to accept a curtain call.

    What worked for me, ultimately? A trip to my local Blockbuster. I scan the shelves and realize how disposable movies are anyway and to "get over myself," as it were.

    Best o' luck! Nice blog, by the way!

  11. Anonymous10:29 AM


    Do it for your blog readers!

    Or the Gipper, or a cat you like or something.


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