About ten years ago I did a creative writing course by correspondence. It was great fun and at the end I received a diploma and the Round Tuit you see in the photo above. I’d forgotten all about my Round Tuit, until I read an article this week on procrastination.
When it comes to writing, I procrastinate a lot. Of course, there are times when inspiration hits and the words pour forth and I can’t wait to get to my laptop and write it all down.
But then there are the other times. Times when I know what I want to say but I don’t know how to say it. Times when I know I have a deadline but the words won’t come. That is when the internet beckons, and sometimes I wonder how Over the Edge was ever finished.
Some writers might decide the house needs cleaning before they can sit down and write that tricky ephiphany scene. Or they’ll decide the car really needs a wash before the hero finds a way to declare his undying love. But my house stays messy. The car is a shambles, because I “research”. Yeah, that’s what I call it. Not procrastination. Research.
Like the day I sat down to write a scene with Angus in his top-floor office of a Sydney skyscraper. There I was, kids at school, house to myself, no distractions, ready to write…and I decided the first thing I should do is work out which floor Angus’ office was actually on. I spent a good twenty minutes Googling the heights of Sydney office towers, working out a small, single detail that could’ve been added later on, after the scene was done. It was the same when Zoe wanted to buy a new satchel bag. I spent half the morning looking up designer bags without writing a single word.
And so often one thing leads to another. My research on hiking boots went from websites about rugged outdoor gear to image galleries of glamorous stilettos. Of course. And my investigation into pre-nuptial agreements led me to forums about wedding disasters. Grooms throwing up over brides, collapsing cakes and carjackers stealing the wedding limousine. Then there was the jealous best-man who burnt down the reception hall, and the mother-in-law who had an allergic reaction to the main course. It was like being sucked into a black hole of marital mishaps and I couldn’t climb out. Before I knew it the afternoon had disappeared, the kids were home from school and I’d written two sentences. Two.
But all research is valuable, isn’t it? I mean, I mightn’t need to know about surf-style dog leads or inflatable Santa sleighs for this story, but I might for the next one. Right? Right
And now, a new visual clue for Over the Edge