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I'm in the process of writing a book and through my plans I know I have a fairly crucial, game-changing scene coming up. I can't help but put it off!

I don't want to force myself to sit and write it through because quality will suffer. How do I help this procrastination and regain the spirit of my writing enough to hit this scene?

Does anyone have any techniques, or ideas, about how I can overcome this?

I've read through the question: How do you deal with procrastination when writing? but this seems to do with procrastination on a whole story level rather than what I'm dealing with, which is avoiding writing a particular scene.

I'm in a situation whereby I'm procrastinating too much and I feel I'm overexpanding the scenes around my game-changer and as a result they are getting bloated. I'm almost over-writing the scenes around it to sort of delay the actual writing of the scene!

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2 Answers 2

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I think there are two reasons you might be procrastinating on the scene:

  1. You are afraid of doing it wrong (in that case follow Lauren Ipsum's advice).
  2. It's boring and you don't feel like writing it.

If it's the second choice I suggest the following:

a. Remove the scene. I know it hurts. But something I realized is that progress is not how many words you write, but how many decisions you make for your story. Removing a complete scene is a very big decision. Hence an important one. (But since you said it's a crucial scene, maybe this isn't the case.)

b. Change the scene so it becomes fun/exciting to write. In the past I procrastinated on various scenes. Later I realized it was because I felt they were cliched/boring. Once I came up with a new and exciting way of writing them I couldn't stop.

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Agreed; I often stall on a scene and can't get past it. Most of the time some soul searching reveals that the issue is that I don't like the scene, or the way I'm writing it, and going back or just scrapping it solves the problem. –  CLockeWork Nov 18 '13 at 15:15
    
I'll take a look at my scene and figure out why I'm procrastinating as opposed to how to get over it. I may find my answer there. Thanks, this is helpful! –  Dan Hanly Nov 18 '13 at 16:59
    
In hindsight, my problem was 2. It was a crucial scene, but it was devoid of action and unfortunately was boring! –  Dan Hanly Dec 9 '13 at 13:21

You're letting the perfect become the enemy of the good.

You know it's a critical scene, and you're scared to screw it up. That's reasonable. The problem is that you're so scared of screwing it up that you can't even let yourself start, because you're afraid of "breaking it."

Rationally, of course, you know that you can edit, rewrite, or start over. But the fear of the blank page can be crushing.

So you find ways around it. Some suggestions:

  • Sit down with a good friend and a recording device. Tell your friend about the scene, in minute detail. Explain what you want to do. Tell the friend who is in the scene, what they're doing, what your goals are as the author. Share some dialogue. Totally riff. Don't be afraid to say things out of context or jump back and forth in the storyline. Have a conversation. The next day, play back the recording and transcribe as much as you can. That will give you something on the page which you can then edit and flesh out.
  • Write a detailed outline, or detailed notes. Don't worry about the wording. In fact, make it choppy on purpose, so you are deliberately NOT worried about how it sounds. Just do a dump of everything you want to accomplish in that scene, and then you can rearrange the bits. Again, this gives you something on the page.
  • Write it backwards. Seriously. Why not? Start from the last line and put things before it. Takes some of the pressure off because you've already gotten to the end part.

The point is that you cannot edit a blank page. You need to get something underway.

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Thanks for this. I think I'll try and have a crack at your 2nd Point. I think if I get a purposefully rough outline, I may be able to use this as a basis for writing the actual words of the story. –  Dan Hanly Nov 18 '13 at 14:41
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I'll add sth I tried before, and it kinda worked. Write the important bits of the scene, disjointed and with no clear markers, conjunctions, or the like. Leave it in your archive for a week or so. Make sure you remember the scene in your mind in the same fuzzy way you always see it in. Then write it again; you've probably already forgotten the particulars of the first draft. Then again, and again. Collect all the drafts (as many as you want), read them over, right a detailed outline, then the first concise draft. –  Mussri Nov 18 '13 at 15:21
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I sometimes write observational articles and I find that the latter point - writing backwards - always seems to work best for me when I am stuck for ideas. –  SnookerFan Nov 22 '13 at 11:42

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