Write tip: How to Procrastinate

Source: http://livinlovindude.deviantart.com/
Source: http://livinlovindude.deviantart.com/

I woke up this morning after a terrible night’s sleep (see Ghost Kid for possible reasons why…) but oddly, I didn’t feel the usual morning fatigue. I felt driven and ready to write. I planned to continue with the novel, and I had ideas noted down from last night’s pre-sleep creativity burst for a short story and a couple of flashes. But then I made the usual mistakes of (1) Switching the TV on, and (2) Going on twitter. Friday is my day off and I always plan to write ALL DAY, but what inevitably happens is one (or more) of the following….

Thanks to Catherine Noble for sparking this 🙂

How to procrastinate

  1. Research random plot/character elements – the ones that mean you can’t possibly write on without knowing, e.g. What are the more unusual symptoms of a brain tumour? Which poisons are undetected by a standard tox screen? What music does your main character listen to when they are sad/happy/working? You could just write ‘xxx’ or some other marker to alert you to go back to that bit later, but…
  2. Look up quotes – how could I describe my book with a famous person’s quote? Who would be most relevant? Can I rely on quotes from quote finder sites on the internet? Readers will really connect with me if I do this, won’t they?
  3. Look at cover art  ideas for the unfinished book – will I be able to have a say if I get a traditional deal? What if I decide that I will self-publish after all? Where will I find a designer? Should I go quirky or dark? I can’t write if I don’t know what the book will look like on the table in Waterstones, can I?
  4. Ask others how they avoid procrastinating – what do YOU do to get the words down? How do you stay motivated? (Let’s have a really long discussion about this on twitter/facebook/goodreads/blog comments…)
  5. Organise your folders on your laptop – a tidy shop is a tidy mind (or something… who said that? *frantically looks up quote finder sites*)
  6. Write to do lists – multiple ones, preferably. A great idea in theory, but if you’re like me they get longer, not shorter as time goes on
  7. Read blog posts about ‘how to write’ – yep, please find me the magic bullet. It’s like diet pills. Something must work, right? It can’t just be all hard work and write, write, write, can it?
  8. Look at agents and publishers websites – very important, this one. Who to submit to. The right fit. They all want to see a finished manuscript, but hey, if you keep searching you might find one who’ll be interested in reading your half written unedited sludge – keep looking!
  9. Consider an MA ‘to help you write more’ – all the best writers have done one, haven’t they? Do not rely on your own abilities – you *must* consider giving up a year of your time to attend classes, get feedback, all that jazz. Ok, you will have to give up work and pay fees, but this is a dead cert – why aren’t you doing an MA? Ditto countless day classes, night classes, online workshops, etc etc – ok, you’ll have no actual time to write after all this, but you’ll know SO much about other people’s rules… *NOTE: I am not slagging off MAs… I applaud all who have done one… Thinking about doing one and not doing one though, that’s the time-suck…
  10. Chat on social media about how you have no time to write – ‘I’m so busy at work’, ‘The kids take up all my time’, ‘Oh, I’ve been on twitter for 6 hours! LOL’, ‘OMFG’, ‘#writersnightmare’
  11. Read about how other writers write – this is similar to the MA. You can’t possibly write without knowing how EVERYONE else who writes, writes. Can you?
  12. Buy books on Amazon on recommendation, even when TBR pile is as high as the house – YES! Reading! You must read as a writer, this is a fact – reading more than you write though? Potential flaw in this plan…
  13. Daydream about what you’ll do when you can give up work to write full time – oh yes, when I have all day, every day, I’ll be so prolific that I’ll give James Patterson a run for his money, and I won’t even need co-writers – I’ll write 10,000 a day and still have time to go for a woodland walk to formulate ideas, talk to squirrels, free my mind… I’ll also have time to cook lovely dinners, have lunch with fellow writers, chat to my fans in the street…
  14. Write a blog post about procrastination – um…

If I’ve learnt anything in my short foray into Writingland, it’s that there’s only one way to write… Only one rule…


How do you procrastinate? Would love to hear your thoughts!

10 thoughts on “Write tip: How to Procrastinate

  1. How true this is! And here am I, reading your blog (and taking the time to comment) instead of writing. I have another one: redecorate your blog. After all, it has to look presentable for everything that you will eventually write.

    1. Oh the classic!! How could I forget that! Researching themes and widgets, re-arranging menus… I’ve spent DAYS doing that! Thanks for reading and commenting – now get back to work 😉

  2. I started to read this post earlier, but am just now getting around to doing so. I also got up to write this morning. But then I found I’d not yet written a twitter post for my site, then spent time reading all the other posts, then found this one and now I’ve read it and started to type this reply but…(sorry, I had to flip over and read some Facebook stuff and then answer a couple of emails, where was I? Oh. Yes. My reply) found I got distracted but I think I’m finally ready to hit the enter button…(Sorry, again. I’d been putting off fixing the kids breakfast and since lunch is approaching, I thought I should do that first. So. Back to the reply) and now I’ll hit enter, but I wanted to thank you for helping me get to almost ready to be able to write. Cheers.

  3. He he, I’m a good one for reorganising my laptop files…putting photos in chronological order…and checking through my laptop’s recycle bin, just in case I’ve deleted something that needs restoring….lol. then there’s the Blog, FB etc…

  4. Brilliant, funny and you got my all time favourites there! Plus there was decorating blog (or in my case, a new theme – then all the widgets etc. – utter waste of time!).

    You mentioned to comment if I had more to add. Only this: I notice the LANGUAGE of my thoughts before I procrastinate. Deludedly, I was using the words “I’ll just…” in front! As though I would be two minutes at the proposed thing and it would cause no damage to my writing output!

    This is minimising what effectively amounts to self – and writing – sabotage. If I were working for someone else in an office, I wouldn’t allow that, so why allow it for my time and attention? Living more mindfully (consciously paying attention non-judgmentally) has helped me and may help others.

    So when those “I must just…” thoughts occur, NOW I try to look at the reality, then if I must “just” [insert procrastination/s of choice here], then set a time limit and, hard as it is, I try to stick to that. My bipolar head is a theme park at the best of times and focus is a work in progress but I’m improving.

    Lovely post. Thank you! 🙂 x

    1. In my team at work (in an office) we actually banned the words JUST and ONLY… not only are they bad words for a procrastinating mind-flitter in the world of writing, they are terrible words for prioritising other work too… i.e. ‘Can you do this, it’ll ONLY take a few minutes’ (no it won’t, it will take days!) or ‘I JUST need you to produce this blah blah blah’ (when you say just, do you imply it’s a simple task? it rarely is!) So yes, thank you for this – this is most definitely a big part of ‘The Procrastination Bible’ (c) 😉 Thanks for commenting – glad you enjoyed the post!

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