A friend of mine was venting last week about the fact he’d a)been corralled into a big work project he didn’t have time for; b)the guy in charge wasn’t putting in the effort to do it right: “If he’s going to do it, he should put in the effort, not just do enough he can mark off the checklist.”
Strangely enough I can sort-of understand Mr. Checklist. As you know if you’ve been reading this blog, I’m a list-maker. There was a period several years ago when I became conscious I was approachin a lot of my writing in a spirit of “Okay, I said I’d get a draft done this week, let’s get it finished.” If I didn’t have the energy to put any thought into it and if it didn’t actually improve on the previous draft, well, hey, I’d checked it off!
Needless to say, this is not a productive way to write. Not only that, it’s not much fun, and the primary reason I do fiction is because I love it (believe me, if I were working full time on eHows, I’d be making more money). So I made a conscious decision to enjoy it. To remind myself I love what I do and that if I’m not loving it, something is wrong. And to work on making each draft as good as I can not, just finishing it.
That being said, sometimes I don’t have any choice but to force myself to finish. My first drafts are never good and frequently an incoherent mess; until I finish them, I’ve no idea what I’m writing about or what the story is or where it’s going. That makes them tough to write and tough to finish since I’m not usually enjoying them (I rarely have bursts of inspiration; the bursting comes in later drafts when I suddenly realize what the story is).
So I have to force myself, somehow to get through. Knowing that no matter how sucky it is, there’s something good in there that will come out later. So far I haven’t been wrong.
But after that, I try to have as much fun as possible. And still complete my checklists.

1 Comment

Filed under Short Stories, Writing

One response to “Checklists

  1. Pingback: The hour come round at last « Fraser Sherman’s Blog

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