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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Inspiration and Dirty Laundry by Guest Blogger Berta Platas

I’m such a procrastinator. I recognize that it’s my chief fault and try to overcome it with discipline. My tote bags are full of scraps of paper. "Top Five" notes, Things To Do pads, Git ‘er Done! cards – but none work. No amusingly illustrated list, magnetized for my fridge or digitized for my phone, is going to force me to finish my tasks.

I’ve sort of made my peace with that. ‘Sort of’ because I keep the lists going, although I don’t follow them. While this affects my laundry, dog grooming, and the general health of the dust bunnies behind my doors, it doesn’t touch my writing. I write every day, because I have to. I breathe and eat every day, too. Writing is a part of me, and it’s thrilling to write romance and urban fantasy.

It has little to do with money or fame. Many authors think that a pile of money will solve all their problems, allowing them to write undisturbed. Believe me, something else will take the place of the financial worries, including a whole new tier of financial worries.

Dorothy L. Sayers, creator of the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, stopped writing them after World War II, even though her readers demanded more. Lord Peter had made Sayers a lot of money, enough that she devoted the rest of her life to academic work, and to translating Dante’s Divine Comedy. I’m sure the world appreciates her efforts, but I would rather have had a couple more mysteries.

Then there’s Nora Roberts, who doesn’t seem to have an "off" button. Fame, fortune, and she still writes six to eight hours a day. Why? Because she’s full of stories. As full of stories as Stephen King, who threw down his pen and said he had no fresh stories to tell and that he’d never write again. I think he said that three books ago. Writing is part of their souls. It’s part of mine, too, and I would guess, because you’re reading this blog, that you suffer from the same trait, and that you don’t have to go far to seek inspiration, because you are full of stories. So forget money, forget publication. Sit at the keyboard, or grab a pen, and let the stories burst from your fingertips. Never let an opportunity pass by to better your craft, and with every tale you write you’ll come closer to your goal.

Berta's next romantic comedy for St. Martin's Press Lucky Chica hits the bookstores January '09.

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At 8:10 AM, Blogger berta9999 said...

I'll be dropping in from time to time today. It's such fun to be an guest Noodler!

At 8:11 AM, Blogger Mo H said...

What is your best time for writing? You have a fulltime job in marketing, so I'm sure you have some tricks for making the most of the time you do have to write?

At 8:15 AM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Berta, thanks for coming today! You talk about writing because you love it and you just can't stop. I recently realized that exact thing. I used to always look ahead at the "prize" and I wasn't enjoying the journey. When you can keep your head in the story and write because you love it, it's downright freeing. It's like writing that first book all over again.

Thanks for the reminder!

At 11:17 AM, Blogger Norah Wilson said...

Hey, Berta! Glad you could join us. And I'm glad I'm not the only procrastinator in the crowd. I don't even bother with the lists anymore. LOL! I just keep pecking at it.

At 11:34 AM, Blogger Gillian Layne said...

Hi ladies! It's been back to school and work time and so busy! Good month for inspiration.

Glad to know someone else ignores their "to do" lists. :) I think the "hey, my new book is out" period is so short that the whole time spent writing the thing had better be where you find your joy.

Great post!

At 11:56 AM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

Very inspiring, Berta!

Theresa, I think I'm in the same place you are -- rediscovery of the fun.

At 12:14 PM, Blogger berta9999 said...

Hi, Mo! I've tried different times to write, and the one that works best is to hit the keyboard right after I get home. If I allow myself to sit I'm done for the night. One thing that's helped is that I take my laptop to the deck and write next to my husband, or at the dining room table when my daughter is working on a project. I get my work done, they don't feel neglected.

My most productive time, however, is first thing in the morning. For now, that time's devoted to my day job. I get a lot done early in the morning!

At 12:21 PM, Blogger berta9999 said...

Procrastination is in my blood, I guess. I even bought a book that was supposed to cure me of it - "Eat that Frog!" It suggests that if you choose to do your least desirable task first, the others are easier to accomplish. Ha!

I find it amusing that the projects I find impossible become miraculously urgent when something worse comes up.

When I had to do big edits on my latest book my dogs got bathed, the deck got pressure-washed for the first time in seven years and I made appointments and I eyed my carpets for a possible steam cleaning. Luckily my critique group slapped some sense into me.

At 12:24 PM, Blogger janegeorge said...

Hi Berta,

I think our brains get programmed to go into the writing zone when we work at the same time everyday. My prime time was nine p.m. to midnight because of the day job and family constraints. Now, I'm sans day job and trying to re-program the zone.

You are a saint to be able to write while sitting next to a family member!

At 12:40 PM, Blogger Louisa Cornell said...

Procrastinators of the world unite ... right after I sort the laundry or was I going to bathe the dog ... I know I put that list somewhere. I think it's in the dog in the bathtub actually!

I am really good at making lists, just not so good at finishing them or even finding them after they're made.

Because of idiotic schedule at my DDJ it is really hard to schedule time to write. I do write every day, but it is so erratic and fractured sometimes. Now that I am back from conference, inspired and determined to make this work I have to get the rest of my life organized in order to keep my writing time expanding AND organized!

I carry notecards everywhere and I have actually got notecard boxes for each of my WIPs, etc. When I come home I put the notecards in the appropriate box. I am currently working on finishing my second book. Sometimes the notecards are about that book, but sometimes snatches of dialogue, scenes and plot points from other stories come into my head. I write them on the cards for future reference. I once wrote an entire chapter from various notecards - putting it together like a jigsaw puzzle. Is anyone else that weird?

At 1:22 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Berta, I envy you who are filled with stories to tell. Mine have to be pulled out of me, one story at at time and I'm forever worrying that no more will come.

So far that hasn't happened, but neither have a dozen stories waiting to be told.

At 1:33 PM, Blogger berta9999 said...

Janegeorge: re sainthood for writing next to a family members - headphones help. I found out long ago that my husband and I could not share an office. For one, he likes horizontal filing (read, toss stuff on floor) for another, he talks on the phone to clients all day. Loudly. AAAAhhhhhh!!!! So if I worked from home I'd have to hide away someplace quiet. But I'm good for a couple of hours on the deck or in the living room. :)

At 1:36 PM, Blogger berta9999 said...

Oh, Louisa I feel for you with the crazy work schedule. Sounds like you have a good system for staying on track. I wrote my first book in longhand during my lunch hour (I was an administrative assistant). Then at night I would transcribe my notes on my home computer, and transcription is something you can do with kids tugging at your sleeves, husbands yelling at the TV, and the cat walking across the keyboard. Okay, not that last. But everything else was cool, because the creative, thinking, part had already been done.

At 1:40 PM, Blogger berta9999 said...

Diane, I'll bet you do have lots of stories. Let's chat sometime and I'll guarantee you that before half an hour is done, you'll have ideas for ten more books. Ask Maureen Hardegree, your fellow Noodler and my critique pard - we're idea machines. The ideas will come from you -- it's the questions I ask that will bring them bubbling out, and it's a fun game to play. It's kind of like riding a bike. Once you know how, you don't forget, but you wonder how the heck you managed to learn.

Then you'll wonder when you'll ever have the time to write all the stories. I need three more lifetimes, minimum.

At 1:44 PM, Blogger berta9999 said...

Louisa, your notecard method is not that different from storyboarding. I'm a big fan of storyboards. It helps me to plot thoroughly, and with limited writing time, it's all about the planning. Those of us with day jobs and family commitments have no time to muse. Your cards are also a good way to capture ideas when they come to you. How do you keep track of the strays, so that you remember to add them where they're needed?

At 4:33 PM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

Louisa: "in the dog..." Ha!

I don't think I could do the notecard thing, because my notes are very long-winded, but it must be very satisfying to come home and put them in their various boxes. That part is very appealing to me!

At 4:48 PM, Blogger Louisa Cornell said...

Berta - I go through each box periodically and try to organize them in scenes or chapters. I will clip them together with a paperclip and go back over them again and again. Sometimes they stay in the same scene or chapter, sometimes they move. And Esri I have filled notecards front and back and even numbered them in a series when the ideas are long!

At 8:19 PM, Blogger Carla Fredd said...


There's no way I could give up my lists! I might not do everything on the list but I NEED my lists. Lists don't stop me from procrastinating because in my little world one has nothing to do with the other.

At 7:39 AM, Blogger Mo H said...

Thanks so much for blogging with us today, Berta!


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