Finding the ways to fill the time
This is my attempt at honing my weak ability to focus, while providing some tips for people who are procrastinating right now reading this blog (you know who you are).
The first conundrum is of course, isn’t writing a blog just another form of procrastination? I am the type of person whose house is somehow a lot cleaner whenever I have an exam to study for.
But, I’m past the age when if you didn’t study, it shows. I’m into the much harder period of life where there is no more formal grading; you either achieve something, or you don’t and most people really don’t care either way. You become fluent in that second language, finish that story, or you don’t. The only person who it will really affect is your own self.
My aim since I was 10 has been to write a book people would love.
Instead, I’ve started blogs, or at least one so far, detailing my recent adventures driving around Australia. If authors should write what they know, then travel blogging is going to be easier than science fiction. Also, writing something, anything, is a tactic for side-stepping writer’s block.
But I love fiction, both science and fantasy. I grew up on Asimov, Weis and Hickman and discovered William Gibson and P.F Hamilton as an adult (don’t let your kids read PF Hamilton unless you want them to have a really unrealistic idea of the birds and the bees). I have a sprawling, half-coloured in universe and the outlines to literally 30 stories within it and the beginning chapters of about 10 of them (inventing deeper, more complex back-stories is one of the most frustrating and motivation stealing forms of procrastination IMO) but I want to get the point where not only one is finished, but it’s good.
So no more! We’ve come to the snap-back point and I’ve come as far into the deep history of this universe as I’m going! (any further, I’ll be discussing protozoa >< not the level of sci fi I really want to go to)
I have a broad outline of the plot and a scattershot idea of the universe. I’m going to specific the hell out of, using the internet as my research library (while deftly side-stepping the dangers of the Facebook quick-sand pits and the fountain of eternally refreshing Google news) . The best results of my stultifying net-trawling, stuff that works, I’ll pass on to you.
Eventually, out of the din of hard-work and focused mind buzzing, a story will form and get posted up here on the internet. This may be a terrible, horrible, trust-in-humanity-destroying mistake, but maybe… maybe? someone might enjoy it, or at least be kind with their constructive criticism (am I asking too much internet?).
Plan for today was to get a more concrete idea of the solar system in which the story will take place.
The two resources I used were the excellent world building tutorial over at FARP (Fantasy Art Resource Project) which even includes a print-out worksheet (which, had I a printer, makes inventing new worlds efficient! ) and StarGen a solar system generator that works without any downloading and pops out hard-science information as well as an idea of your planet’s atmosphere which, I at least, would not have been able to invent and make sound plausible.
So I’m looking proudly down at my newly created solar system, feeling that little burn of achievement. I was determined to only spend a day on the physics, and thanks to the above websites, I achieved that. Next hurdle, and it’s a big one, culture.
What kind of fiction do you read/write/enjoy? How do you prepare yourself for writing a big story? Lots of notes? No notes? Write all the sex scenes first? (I’m looking at you PF Hamilton) What are your ways of dealing with procrastination?