typewriterOkay, my plan for today was to post a link to a video of a hillbilly dancing with a raccoon, but I recently got a link to here from Carnival of Words, and that kind of cornball antics won’t play with the new folks I expect to visit the blog and class up the joint (not that there is anything wrong with the people already reading it – love you guys).

So, on to a serious literary topic.  There is plenty of advice for the aspiring writer out there – N.E. White has been going through a bunch of them from the good folks at Pixar, for example.  A lot of these rules focus on the getting out there and getting the wordcount up, fighting writer’s block, fighting through feelings of crippling inadequacy common to all writers, etc.  Heck, that’s pretty much NaNoWriMo in a nutshell.  Much of this advice is useful, I’m sure, to all those single-minded, driven, hard-headed writers out there who can focus like a laser on a given topic, and maybe just have trouble keeping up momentum on that project.

But what about the likes of me?  In computer science, there is a term “thrashing”, that basically describes what happens when multiple users or programs are competing for the same resource (virtual memory, say), and the computer spends more time allocating resources and switching back and forth than it does actually doing any of the things it was allocating resources for.  That tends to be my problem.  I don’t have trouble writing per se, it’s just that I generally have so many varying works in progress and beta reads and so on that I can find myself switching back and forth between projects, writing a few hundred words here and a few hundred words there.  It is progress of a sort, but not the kind that would amaze an onlooker.

Alas, I suspect that my tendency toward thrashing is related to my inability to write a decent outline of a plot until I’ve already finished a first draft; just a personal flaw I can’t do much about.  But if anyone has any great advice on ignoring all but one writing project, let me know.

Of course, I also do find other ways to procrastinate.

~ by smwilliams on August 1, 2013.

6 Responses to “Thrashing”

  1. What is it with that hillybilly? I see him everywhere now.

    Anyway, would it help if you had an audience in mind? Say, you could write/finish one of your stories for your mother’s birthday, or maybe another that your sister might like? Or, even, one for me?

    • I think having a specific reader in mind can help motivate one’s writing, but of course when it comes to thrashing that only works if I assume the specific reader would only like one of the many wonderful stories I have in mind. Instead, I get to wondering whether they might like the lasers and petticoats story more than the Lovecraftian story, or whether they’d really prefer the story about the two-fisted surveyor.

  2. Agggh, I have that same thrashing problem – for my life and my work! I didn’t know it had a name. We live in a world with too much information and too many choices and not enough attention span.

    PS Now that I have watched that Hillbilly video multiple times, I dread to find out what Youtube is going to “recommend” to me next in their next email update.

    • I have that problem at work, too, but I don’t let it bother me as much. Of course, there it is someone else’s fault for giving me too many things for me to allocate precious resources to. With writing I can’t blame anyone else.

      You really can’t go wrong with hillbilly videos, as a general rule. Or the whole dancing raccoon genre, for that matter.

  3. “Thrashing” is one of my favorite computer science terms. I agree it is a good model for the human brain getting stuck between choices.

    • Ironically, I sometimes think I trash a bit more than I would otherwise because my laptop is doing likewise, which inspires me to find something else to do while I wait for it to sort itself out.

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