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Yes, I can totally explain the post-it notes all over the walls
And other weird things you find yourself doing as a writer
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This morning as I was happily papering the wall of my “writing room” (aka the bedroom of my daughter who is away at college) with different colored post-it notes, it occurred to me that writers are very weird people who do very weird things.
The post-its are not conspiracy-related, I promise. I’m working on this…thing. It could be a collection of linked short stories. It could be an episodic novel. I’m not worrying about that at the moment. I’m just doing the writing.
But when you’re skipping around from one story/scene to another like I am right now, it’s hard to feel a sense of forward progress. A sense of forward progress as a writer is a very important thing. You spend most of your time sitting in a room alone, throwing words into the void. With this project in particular, I work on one story for a while, then move onto another if the feeling strikes me. There’s no mounting word count as there has been in the past when I’m drafting a book straight through. It’s a very spiralic sort of way to write and it’s working for me, but the question lingers—am I getting anywhere?
So this morning I decided to come up with a highly visible way to track some progress. Enter the post it notes:
I created three sort of areas on the wall. One for stories/scenes that are still being drafted. This is the in-progress group. A second for stories/scenes that have an ending…maybe. It could be an ending. Maybe it’s not. These stories/scenes are done-ish. Then the last (and sadly, smallest) group—basically done? Yes, with a question mark. Is a story ever really done? Probably not. But this category is done enough.
This exercise felt very satisfying and had the added bonus of filling ten minutes of avoiding the actual writing. But writing is such an in-your-head, in-the-computer sort of thing. Writing so rarely has any kind of physicality, until you print it out. Or until it becomes an actual book, which takes, literally, years.
But here, in the middle of the process, is a physical representation of what I have done. Where I am. How much farther I have to go. It’s weird, but it works.
What are some of your weird writing tricks?