Getting a critique of your work-in-progress can feel a bit like getting your plans for your dream house
How the hell are you supposed to build your house with all these new constraints? How do you even get started? Will it still look even remotely close to the house you envisioned?
Maybe you are a person who picks up a pencil and gets started. Or maybe you find yourself circling the drafts again and again as your brain threatens to explode from the sheer complexity of the task ahead.
Eventually, however, you have to do something. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck with a cramped, dark, smoke-filled hobbit house and no one will come to visit.
With that in mind, here is INTERN’s secret strategy for dealing with paralysis, listlessness, or Work Avoidance of any sort:
Focus on what you can do.
If you’re feeling too paralyzed to even think about revision, take out a highlighter and highlight all the pages, paragraphs, or individual sentences that don’t need revising. Easy! Fun! It’s just like coloring!
If you’re too afraid of screwing up to start re-writes, make notes. You can’t screw up notes, can you?
If you’re too daunted to think about the high-level issues, go through your manuscript and fix the continuity errors. Or the screwed-up days and dates. Or other nonthreatening, fixable stuff.
If you’re too stumped to write scenes, write sentences. If you’re too scared to write sentences, write words.
There’s always something you can do.
Yes, all you’re doing is avoiding the real work.
Or are you?
Special Ed-sounding tasks like highlighting your good sentences might sound like a waste of time. But the point of these tasks isn’t to make Crucial Advances. The point is to get the ball rolling.
For INTERN, these dumb, easy tasks are like a gateway drug into the real work. Scribbled notes have a way of turning into scenes, and the process of fixing superficial errors has the pleasant side effect of sparking Real Insights.
So that’s INTERN’s secret for getting over paralysis. What’s yours?