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Sunday, June 24, 2018

Deadlines, research, and rabbit holes

cj Sez:  I wish I could have begged, borrowed, or stolen some of Elmore Leonard’s discipline for writing. What started as necessity for him turned into habit when he became an established author.

“To support his family, he worked as a copywriter at an ad agency, where he developed his aversion to adverbs, and also his knack for brief, punched-up prose. He began a habit of waking at five a.m. and immediately starting to write -- not even putting the water on for coffee until he had something down on paper -- then going to work at the office, first in advertising and later writing educational films for the Encyclopedia Britannica.” (Source:

It used to be that I worked better when I had a short-term deadline. So, I thought if I gave myself a deadline, I’d have the incentive to keep going. Found out that’s not true because somehow I seem to know the deadline is self-imposed. (As if!) I manage to bury my deadline under weeks of procrastination that I called “research.” (Leonard paid others to do his research.) It seems that the more I research, the less creativity I have. And if I get bogged down in facts, the stories will suffer (I’m working on three manuscripts right now).

Once I have an idea for a story, research is what I do first. But, of course, I can't anticipate every need, and I head back to Google regularly. Too regularly and that's when I disappear into a rabbit hole of information. I'm trying to curtail those random distractions by making notes that I can research the next morning, before I start working again. In fact, last night I made a note or two when I went to bed . . . I get a lot of good ideas just before or just after I fall asleep. That’s why I keep a pad of paper and a pencil on the table next to the bed. 

Sundays are for family and etc., so I won’t be sitting in front of this computer for very long but Monday that’s when I’ll start writing …right after I feed all the critters, including me, weeding and picking up pine cones, keeping a doctor’s appointment, doing a bit of housecleaning, watching the news at 5, 6, and 6:30, making supper, doing dishes. I promise you I won’t be making any deep dives down research rabbit holes. (If I promise myself, I’ll probably find some rabbit hole in which to disappear.)

I suppose some of you might say I’ll still be procrastinating. Nah, it’s just delayed discipline ‘cause once I get all those housekeeping things done, I’ll be sure to start writing on Tuesday. 

That’s all for now, but how about you? When do you get your best ideas? How do you conquer the blank page in front of you? How do you stay out of the research rabbit holes?

That’s it for this post. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.

Another 5-star Amazon review for Deadly Star…a click on the cover picture will take you directly to Amazon to buy a great vacation read. 5 out of 5 stars Hard to Put Down Till the End  From front to back this action-packed mystery kept me guessing about what could possibly happen next to make Mirabel's predicament any more complex. Her practical scientific mind stayed in constant contradiction with her impractical attraction to her ex-husband which added a genuine human aspect. CJ Petterson's broad knowledge of astronomy, airplanes, law enforcement, espionage and peoples' psychological foibles brings this book to life. I could see, smell, and almost touch each character as they interacted with emotions ranging from greed to love. As one who is usually successful in guessing the ending in mysteries, I failed with this one.
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