different kinds of procrastination

The hardest thing is knowing when to push, and when not to.

Three hours ago I was sitting at my computer, trying to get started on the day’s revision and failing. There are two scenes that need total replacing today — one involving the Crow’s Head, one involving the British Museum — and I knew roughly what each one was going to do, but I just couldn’t get my brain in gear enough to produce a decent opening sentence for the first one.

Laziness? Or an actual block?

I went downstairs and played solitaire for a while. Told myself I really should get to work. Then remembered that I also need to write this part’s flashback scene, and maybe if I figured out exactly what that was doing I’d be more able to write the Crow’s Head bit, which is supposed to set up that flashback. So I called kniedzw into the room and we bounced ideas back and forth until I knew what to do with the flashback, and then I came back upstairs and wrote that and polished the bit that follows it, with Galen talking to Lune . . . then hit the wall again. Because the next scene after that is the British Museum one, which also needs replacing. And I wasn’t sure whether I should try to do that before I’ve replaced the previous scene or not. Grumble mutter smack into wall.

Back downstairs for more solitaire.

Ponder ponder. Is it too early to bring up a problem the characters run into later on? No — not if I rearrange the scenes. Put Galen’s conversation with Lune first; then the Crow’s Head scene can happen a couple of weeks later, much closer to the Museum thing, and oh hey Irrith has that favor she can call in, which I’ve been wondering what to do with — use that as setup for the Museum scene?

Bit by bit, it falls into place in my head, and a hell of a lot better than it would have if I’d made myself start writing the Crow’s Head stuff three hours ago. But it’s so hard to tell the difference: will delay improve anything? When you’re under a deadline, you can’t always err on the side of assuming that yes, it will. It was so very tempting to tell myself I could work on this part tomorrow . . . but that would put me a day behind. How can you know when that’s the right course of action, versus when you need to mush on?

At present, I’m writing a blog post about what I’ve figured out, instead of applying it to the book. I think that’s a pretty good sign that the useful procrastination is over and done with, and now it’s time to mush.

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