It’s Saturday morning. I’ve got my coffee, the cold winter sun slanting at a sharp angle on my backyard, stark trees and their thin shadows lay cartographic lines across the grass. Every couple of minutes I look at my coffee cup, take a sip, think about getting up to get a refill, look over to my headphones and think music would be good if I want to write, think about getting up to refill my coffee and pick up my headphones, ponder what music would be good, look outside again, scratch my arm, uncross and recross my legs, sniffle, look out the window, ponder what’s going on with my life, drift away into thoughts about a special someone, about how this woman can’t get her shit together and I am left in limbo constantly, think about how I should put myself first, think about how my heart feels, realizing I can’t quit her just yet, think about what her mother has to do today—put her dog down—think about my own dog that died a year and a half ago, get sad, sniffle, look out at the yard, remember that I’m going on an easy hike with a friend at 2, damn this virus and this pandemic, think about how lonely it has been, think about how lonely so many people have been, look at my coffee cup, take a sip, stretch, rise out of the chair, fill the coffee cup, stare out at the front yard, wonder how cold it is outside, walk back to the office, pick up the headphones, spend five minutes looking for a decent playlist, look outside at the backyard, sip my coffee, sigh.
What kind of software do I need to write my novel? Where’s the plot templates and character sheets and how do I figure out this timeline piece of my novel? Maybe I should do a search. Maybe I should just spend an hour or two, maybe an entire Saturday morning, searching for the right software. Why wouldn’t I if it’s going to help me in the long run? Why not spend that time more wisely than just writing? Open a new tab in the browser, which is already open because Spotify is open, enter in “novel plotting software” into the search bar, scroll mindlessly through the results, clicking open anything that looks promising. Read about the features, read about the pricing, read about the company to see if they’ll be around in six months or maybe my novel will be lost to the seedy underbelly of discontinued apps and lost work. Sigh, close the browser, think I should just build my own app to do what I want it to do. Think I could build something in six months, which then gives me another six months to finish my novel, keeping to my goal to finish it in 2021. Sigh, look out the window at my back yard, watch a lone doe pick her way across the line of trees that separates my yard from the crop field to the north, sigh, look back to my screen.
Maybe I should write about what my brain is trying to do? Maybe I should open up my text editor, write a blog post about the tricks my brain plays to keep me from writing. You know, that’s a great idea. Let’s start writing anything, at this point, get the fingers moving, the mind focused on putting words down, one after the other, forming sentences and then an entire river of characters and times and spaces and worlds flowing out like the Amazon, barreling toward some unknown ending, all because I did not find the right novel plotting software.
This is a problem, isn’t it?
Great authors of the past—hell, even mediocre authors—didn’t need software. They just wrote. I need to just write. I need to put the words down and finish this damn novel. It’s been in the works for almost two and half years. I have taken classes, I have outlined (not enough, to be honest and fair to myself), I have lived with these characters and know their motives, know their pain and loves and fears but I still have to put in the work, the hours, the ass in seat, head down, painful process of birthing these characters and their stories out into the world. There is no software or some trick that will make writing easier. I need to stop complicating the process.
It isn’t complicated.
One word. Then another.
One sentence. Then another.
A scene, a chapter, a book, a complete novel.