I have discovered that I am a procrastinator when it comes to writing. Not in the traditional sense of avoiding writing that story I promised I’d re-draft, or being distracted by the internet and everyone else’s writing habits and success: but actually IN my writing. I find myself inventing scenes that aren’t necessary, adding detail that isn’t needed, creating twists that make no sense: all so I can prolong the act of writing and of the story I’m narrating. Put bluntly, I’m not a completer-finisher.
I’ve just had to force myself to bring a story to a close. It was the ending I wanted, the final few lines I had planned during the conception of this story. Yet, I still had to consciously make myself end it. I was aiming for a maximum of 4,000 words: I’ve ended up with 6,000. Even when I was writing I knew that this paragraph was unnecessary, that this scene didn’t gel with the approach I was taking, that those sections of dialogue were not suitable for my characters. Yet, I continued writing them all the same, until I had to sit down and repeat to myself: ‘finish the story, finish the story…just end the goddamn story already’
While I know that this may be a process we, as writers, need to go through sometimes – exploring all the different angles to a story in order to understand the character, the plot, the rationale behind the telling of such a story – it’s difficult to just snap out of it on command. I knew I had to: this story I plan to submit to a competition, and the deadline is in less than a week, so I needed to complete a first draft with time to edit it and ensure it is what I imagined it to be. Yet, I still struggled to stop writing it.
Hopefully it’s a reassuring sign that I like the process of writing still, that I am drawn into my own stories by a deeper desire to create more and discover the idiosyncrasies of the world I have written about. But there has to be an end point somewhere. I need to stop procrastinating – such a bad habit – and focus a little bit more on the bigger picture: the one where I actually complete a piece of writing so that I can move onto the next. Now that I’ve recognised this tendency to prolong the writing experience, perhaps I’ll be more successful at mastering the art of editing and finally experience the pride that comes when something is actually finished.