Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Bonus Quote!

As per my blog yesterday, I found the part in Kate White's book, WHY GOOD GIRLS DONT' GET AHEAD BUT GUTSY GIRLS DO, about the "slicing the salami" method of dealing with large projects.

"To help me get over my procrastination problem, I wrote several pieces on the subject, and from a time-management expert named Edwin Bliss I learned a technique that made all the difference. It's called "the salami technique." His theory, and there are variations on this theme by other time-management experts, is that any big task staring you in the face is similar to a giant hunk of salami - it's very unappetizing to look at. However, if you cut the salami into thin slices, it is much more appealing; in fact, it will look quite attractive on your creamy white Italian platter."

When I read this last night, something immediately jumped out at me, besides the fact that Edwin Bliss would be a great name for a character and that this is a good example of an author's voice, and that I thought it was "slice" not "cut." I think the sibilant "slicing" sounds better than the hard-nose "cutting." I also like alliteration. I had completely forgotten Ms. White was talking about procrastination.

I know why I forgot this. I don't procrastinate. Well, okay, I do...sometimes. But not often. I can't. Because I worry. Having a deadline and doing nothing about it is, to me, like having a hang nail. It bugs. And then the worry begins and the stress builds until my imagination throws its hands up in the air and takes a vacation.

I've heard many a procrastinator say "I do my best work under pressure." What bothers me when people say this, whether they're smug at the time or not, is that it makes procrastinating sound tremendously exciting. I'm living on the edge, baby! My life is a thrill ride! By implication, whatever they produce, their "best work," is also going to be exciting and thrilling. Whereas we who don't wind up rushing madly to a deadline? Our lives are steady, dull and boring and our work is going to be boring, too. We're the tortoise to their hare. The tortoise may win in the end, but in the meantime, who would you rather hang out with?

And then I read these comforting words:

"...people often say they do their best work as the deadline nears. That usually is not the case. The truth is, that is the only time they do the work." -- Robert J. Kriegel and Louis Patler, IF IT AINT' BROKE...BREAK IT!

Now, I don't think being a tortoise or a hare gives you any particular advantage in the writing game, because there are successful writers in both camps. And being a tortoise or a hare is a product of your upbringing and temperment, as much as a part of you as the sort of stories you want to tell. You are what you are.

But hey, we tortoises do know how to party. We just party better when the work is done.


Cornflake King said...

Great blog. I'd love to write a book but don't know where to start in terms of coming up with an idea. I wouldn't care if it was published or not.
Any advice?


The Cornflake King.

Margaret Moore said...

What do you like to read? That's always a good place to start. Or do you mean how to develop an idea from "hey, that'd be neat!" to a full book? If so, there are lots of books out there about developing plot and character.

Me, I always start with a setting (usually medieval England) and a character, either the hero or the heroine. Then I play the "what if" game, looking not for "love" although I write romances, but conflict, because conflict is what gives every story its fuel.

I have articles for aspiring writers on my website that go into more detail, and there's more book suggestions, too. Good luck!