Productive Procrastination!

My current main writing goal is to get my second novel in shape to submit to my publisher in September.

In May, I finished editing the second draft and sent it to eight lovely people for feedback, which I received back by the end of June. I took a few days off work at the start of July, with the intention of going through all the feedback, collating my notes and completing a comprehensive editing plan, which I was then going to work my way through for the rest of the month. August would then be available for a sense-check, line edit, and reading the whole thing aloud to myself to check the flow.

Things haven’t gone entirely to plan. It’s 20 July and I haven’t even built my editing plan yet, let alone being most of the way through implementing it.

But that’s okay, because I was well aware that my July plan was ridiculous and unattainable. It was designed to put editing the novel front and centre in my awareness and hopefully encourage me to spend more time on it than I would otherwise. How successful that has been so far is debatable, but I’m not beating myself up over my lack of concrete progress.

This is especially because of an interesting experience I had a week ago, when I was massively procrastinating - and thought I wasn’t doing anything useful at all, other than playing around with coloured pens.

When I started going through my feedback, I had the notes from my beta readers up on my computer screen, and I went through them one by one, writing the points I wanted to action by hand in my A4 novel-notes-notebook. So, that exercise created a list of points by beta reader, which could be used to build my editing plan.

Last Monday, instead of going straight into building that plan electronically, I decided I wanted to organise my notes better, so it would be easier to see what I needed to do (otherwise known as putting off the actual work). I went through all the handwritten pages, colour-coding all the points by character, theme, or editing issue. And then I transcribed them all into a new section of my notebook, using the appropriately coloured pen to write each section.

So far, so completely useless, right?

As it turned out, this was very much not the case!

There are aliens in my novel, and the main issue that most of my beta readers raised was that there wasn’t enough information about how the alien society worked, how their ‘governing body’ actually ran things, and how the threat of war was even really a threat to them.

These are all very big world-building questions that I hadn’t put nearly enough through into, and I had absolutely no idea how I was going to address them - which was why I was reluctant to get on with the actual editing of the novel.

However, as I was collecting and transcribing my notes about the aliens (in sky blue), my brain started whirring and several very important ideas and plot points suddenly came together - and answered all the questions everyone had about the aliens! So, the very laborious process of collating my notes multiple times over several days actually gave my subconscious the time and the impetus to think about all these questions and come up with ways to work them out.

Admittedly, that was a week ago, and I still haven’t actually built my editing plan, or started the proper work of really revising the novel, but still… I think after all that mental effort and epiphany, I needed a bit of a break!


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