Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Vanilla? Chocolate? Choose! (On the Importance of Single-Mindedness)

Years ago I took a weekend course called the Landmark Forum. Somewhere over those topsy-turvy days, this lesson was presented:

Vanilla? Chocolate? Choose!

The point (if I got it) was: Which doesn’t matter. Just choose. No matter your choice it’s the right (perfect, correct, best) one. So stop thinking about it. Stop mulling, milling, jiving, juking, dipping, hopping and dilly bopping and just choose

As a writer how do I know when I’m at one of these “Vanilla? Chocolate?” crossroads?
When writing grinds to a standstill and my time is filled with this, that and the other, most of which has nothing to do with my dreams and aspirations and everything to do with getting along from day to day. During these spells, days, even weeks can go by without opening a manuscript.

I am getting better, and for this I thank my trusty Writing Schedule or more specifically, the discipline I’m developing as a result of said schedule. (To read more about this handy writing tool, click here.)

The most recent dilemma, the quandary that ground my production machine to a halt was being undecided. Of a split mind. Divided. I was waffling on whether to:
  1. Finish the trilogy before publishing Books One and Two. This gives me the ability to incorporate ideas that are sure to come up later in the storyline. But Book One has already taken five years. Do I really want to wait another five to get this story in to readers’ hands?
  2. Finish and publish Book One now. This puts it in readers’ hands sooner and builds interest for the rest of the trilogy while it’s being written.
During this slump, Book One was tucked away, awaiting a last (I thought) read-through before turning it over to beta readers, while the written first-half of Book Two received cut-and-paste surgery (to marry POV’s written stand-alone during last November’s NaNoWriMo). After that, (for the last couple of weeks) I coasted along.

The other night I watched Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin in one of my favorite movies “All of Me”. I’d forgotten the part where the bowl holding her newly-released spirit bonks him on the head and he comes to on the sidewalk, only to realize that his nemesis, Miss Cutwater, is now sharing his body. And she’s not at all cooperative.

As usual, watching the struggle between them made me laugh out loud. But I also felt a tad uneasy. Why? Because I’m doing the same thing on a daily basis, toeing the line between my business (work), and writing. Top that with uncertainty on which way the writing’s going and holy cannoli! Herky-jerky chaos that does nothing but wear me out and put me in the recliner watching reruns.

So I chose 2), finish Book One. Once the choice was made, the block disappeared, I ceased fighting myself and I’m a quarter of the way through the last read-through/edit and will have Book One in my beta’s hands by the 15th. Or so.

Are any of your projects held up by internal struggles? Vanilla? Chocolate? Choose!

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