In Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott talks about the inner voices that plague her as she works on first drafts:
What I’ve learned to do when I sit down to work on a shitty first draft is to quiet the voices in my head. First there’s the vinegar-lipped Reader Lady, who says primly, “Well, that’s not very interesting, is it?” And there’s the emaciated German male who writes these Orwellian memos detailing your thought crimes. And there are your parents, agonizing over your lack of loyalty and discretion; and there’s William Burroughs, dozing off or shooting up because he finds you as bold and articulate as a houseplant; and so on. And there are also the dogs: let’s not forget the dogs, the dogs in their pen who will surely hurtle and snarl their way out if you ever stop writing, because writing is, for some of us, the latch that keeps the door of the pen closed, keeps those crazy ravenous dogs contained. (26)
Right now, I’m struggling with two works-in-progress that have gone feral. I haven’t written in a serious or sustain way in nearly two weeks and the dogs have escaped.
One draft — the historical novella — is a mess. I’m working on the third act. The end is in sight. But I have plotting problems. Somehow, the opening is both too fast and too slow and at the end, I’m having trouble giving the resolution time to breathe because I’m really not good at writing subplots, which is what I need to fix my problems.
The other manuscript — a contemporary single title — is progressing nicely but I’m afraid of screwing it up. There are no major plotting problems. The male protagonist has a nice, complicated backstory. (If anything, the heroine is too perfect.) They don’t get together too quickly. And as I move into the second act, I’m afraid I’m going to destroy everything I like about the manuscript so far.
So I’m procrastinating by blogging, which is logical and reasonable, right?