Friday, 14 August 2015

Ten ways for writers to procrastinate - and pretend they aren't!

Following on from my previous posts, which listed ten things you should never say to a writer, and ten things you should never do if you live with a writer, today I'm going to offer you ten suggestions for how to procrastinate. I know most of us writers don't need any excuse to procrastinate, if the words just won't flow or we've got to that point where we hate every word we've already written and frankly want to give up. But these suggestions come with the added benefit of excuses for procrastination, reasons for procrastination, so that in fact you never need to apologise again for putting off your writing . Of course, you should treat some of these with a hearty dose of salt!

1. Go for a walk. Or a run, a swim, a session at the gym - or whatever you do, or pretend to do, for fitness.
Excuse: This is your Thinking Time. Also, you need to keep fit so that your body doesn't atrophy as well as your brain, and so you don't suffer serious obesity-related health issues before finishing your masterpiece, thus depriving your readers of your best work yet.

2. Make a cup of tea or coffee, pour a drink, make a snack.
Excuse: Every great literary mind needs feeding. Wine and chocolate are known to be good for the brain, aren't they? Also, frequent breaks for small boosts of nutrition will prevent the need to stop for much longer to make a proper cooked meal, after which you'd need to wash up and probably fall asleep.

3. Phone a friend for a chat, or invite someone round (can be combined with No.2 above).
Excuse: Writing is a solitary occupation. Your vocal chords might atrophy if you don't speak to someone at least once a day. Also, you need to keep up with the gossip, or how can you be expected to write realistic dialogue?

4. Spend a bit of time on social media.
Excuse: You are simply doing your promotion. But on the other hand, if all you do on social media is your promo, people will unfriend you, so it's necessary occasionally to spend some time posting pictures of your cute kitten/your cute baby/your dinner, and to enter into discussions about politics/the weather/the latest scandal about a well-know celebrity, thus maintaining interest in you as a human being and showcasing your literary prowess. (For this to be an effective excuse, you should if possible avoid 'CU2morrow', 'LOL', etc).

5. Do some housework.
Excuse: This might sound like you're really desperate to get away from your writing. But the truth is, if your work is as successful as you hope, there will probably be photographers coming round from the local, or even national, press, and how would it look if there was three years' worth of dust on top of the cupboard behind your smiling face in the paper?

6. Go out shopping for a new outfit/get your hair done/have a long soak in the bath and put on some decent clothes.
Excuse: You suspect the photographer might actually be coming today. If not, you'll need to repeat this process tomorrow.

7. Watch a little TV.
Excuse: Obviously, this is for research purposes. You definitely need to watch re-runs of 'Dad's Army' in order to write your romantic fantasy novel. And 'Breaking Bad' helps to provide background for that pre-school children's story, doesn't it?

8. Have a nap.
Excuse: Writing is exhausting, as we all know. And while asleep, your subconscious will work out the next part of the story for you so that when you wake up, the tricky area of plot you've been stuck on for two months will be completely resolved. If it isn't, you will of course need another little nap, possibly after a glass of wine and some chocolate.

9. Read a book/magazine/newspaper/children's comic/travel brochure/mail order catalogue/back of a cereal packet/that bit of paper that came through the door advertising tree lopping.
Excuse: It's a well known fact that reading is essential for any successful writer. Reading your own work is counterproductive and can be depressing, therefore a supply of other material is required at regular intervals.

10. Plan a holiday.
Excuse: Well, needless to say, this is also for research. You're going to set your edgy urban dystopian fantasy in a beach resort in the Maldives, aren't you. Or the travel feature you're going to write about Scotland requires you to take a flight via Australia. This is all good practice in creative thinking. Just don't try extending it into creative tax avoidance. Setting down first class fares to Sydney as expenses won't look good when the fee for 'How to Spend a Cheap Weekend in Glasgow' sits opposite it in your Income and Expenditure records.    

So, you've already tried all those ruses? OK - now forget them, stop reading blogs, and get back to your writing!