From time to time I like to ask myself the question WWFAPD? This situation arises any time I get stuck on something, distracted by something, or otherwise find myself not working on the primary goal.
The specific Famous Author Person changes from time to time, mostly depending on whatever I’m reading at the time. That said, I definitely have a short list of “go to” authors to pick from:
- E. B. White
- A. A. Milne
- P. L. Travers
- H. P. Lovecraft
- E. L. James
Wait a second. I just realized why I’ve never been able to finish a manuscript. It’s my stupid name! From henceforth, all my books shall be written by C. F. Hills. Now I can’t fail!
But I digress.
It should be noted that the above list is not my real list. I’ve never even read a single Mary Poppins book. No, I constructed the false list simply for humorous effect: primarily the juxtaposition of Lovecraft and James. Haha! Oh man, I just had a thought: that would be a fun mash-up. I bet it would go something like this:
After dinner they returned to Mr. Grey’s spacious home. The inky black darkness completely enveloped them as they made their way across the detestable grounds to the front entrance. Pale lights flickered in distant windows as the cold winds passed round them and through them like furtive ghosts. Cold and unseen disembodied hands grasped Anastasia Steele as she gazed, half-frightened, into Christian’s dark and brooding eyes: eyes as deep as the blasphemous pits of some nameless dread. In a macabre, shadowy voice like a distant and maddening drum-beat, Christian broke the vivid silence, “I long for you, Anastasia — you and your presumably reciprocally aching loins — just as the terrible and mindless winter longs for the forgotten and futile spring. Also, I’m kinda thirsty. Champagne, perhaps?
But I digress.
And “digress” is exactly why we’re here today. Because this is exactly the kind of point where I’d ask myself, “What Would (Famous Author Person) Do?” Would this person be wasting time digressing? Or would they just be, you know, writing?
I have this (quite wrong) perception that F. A. Person is perfect. F. A. Person only writes one draft. He or she typically writes it in a single sitting, sleeping on it for one evening, before firing it off to his or her agent right after corn flakes the next morning. The words flow from F. A. Person’s pen on to F. A. Person’s paper like a . . . uh . . . like a thing that flows.
Meanwhile, C. F. Hills comes up with an idea for a scene then promptly forgets it. A few minutes later he remembers it and then goes off to do some research. Twenty-seven days later, he emerges from Wikipedia with deep knowledge of volcanic and tectonic activity in the late Ordovician period when the Iapetus Ocean began to separate the paleocontinents of Laurentia, Baltica, and Avalonia. But he has no idea how that will exactly fit into the story he hasn’t yet written.
F. A. Person certainly wouldn’t waste time on Wikipedia.
C. F. Hills thinks doing NaNoWriMo might jump start his story. Or maybe joining a local writing group. Or an online writing community. Or maybe taking a college course about how to use adjectives correctly. But then he has a thought. The same thought he has over and over and over again:
What do White, Milne, Travers, Lovecraft, and James all have in common?
They never did NaNoWriMo or joined a writing group or signed up for Advanced Adjectives 401. No, they just sat down, put pen to paper, and their words flowed like . . . a river! I got it. A river is something that flows!
But I’m not going to let thoughts like these get me down. Because I’ve tattooed WWFAPD backwards on my forehead as a constant reminder of what I should be doing. No more digressions. No more distractions. I’m going to write like a river and make it happen.
Well, right after I finish Fifty Shades of Madness. I think I might be onto something there.