Monday, 11 June 2012

The art of procrastination

All writers are masters of it.  It happens to all of us and the best of us.   

You tell yourself you will sit down and write.  Just 500 words to begin with, that’s all.  You turn on your laptop and get a drink.  You sit down and realise you’re hungry so you get up to get a biscuit.  You sit back down and open up your novel/short story/article.
Without even thinking, the mouse moves and suddenly you’re checking Facebook.  Well, now you’ve checked Facebook it would be rude not to check Twitter.  How about that blog you discovered yesterday?  And the news, got to keep abreast of the news. 
Before you know it half an hour has passed and you’ve not typed one word.

The past couple of weeks have been particularly bad for me.  I’ve written 1000 words of my new novel (I was supposed to write 1000 words a day) and despite being brimming with ideas I haven’t done anything with them.  The art of procrastination, avoiding the task at hand, doing anything at all other than sitting down and writing is something I feel I am starting to take to new levels.

Yesterday I forced myself into a quiet room with my laptop and wrote probably about 500 words.  I made a plan of when I would write and how many words for the next week and then I slowly drifted off to Facebook and the internet in general.

This got me to thinking; why?  Writing is something I was born to do.  It is a part of me, a necessity.  I have to write in order to stay sane and healthy, so why am I so inclined to avoid it?  I want to be published, I want people to read my stories, I dream of finishing all of the novel ideas in my head, so why can’t I sit down and do it?
It’s not an easy thing to immerse yourself at first.  I need silence in order to concentrate and I need to be alone.  Once I’m writing, I’m fine for a while at least and can then write solidly for up to an hour before my mind needs a rest.

Evasiveness of writing can take many forms;
  • Eating
  • Television
  • Cleaning the house (yes, as horrible and as boring as this is, apparently I need a clean house before I can write)
  • Sorting out the wardrobe
  • Doing the washing
  • Sorting out paper for shredding/filing
  • Going out anywhere – especially when my husband finds me and asks if I fancy doing something, who am I to say no?
  • Internet surfing
  • Staring out of the window – or as I like to call it ‘neighbour watching’
  • Social networking
  • Blog writing
Yes, that’s right.  Even by writing and posting this blog post I am avoiding the task of writing the next 500 words.

The only known cures for this art form of transgression are;
  • Set yourself targets – keep track of how many words you’re writing, it’s very motivating to know you only have 100 more words to go before you can stop and do whatever you want to waste a few minutes.
  • Set yourself deadlines – otherwise projects will just go on and on and on and on…
  • Discipline – do what I did yesterday.  Force yourself into that chair, plonk your laptop in front of you and make your brain focus on the last words you wrote.  The rest will come easy.


  1. Wouldn't it be good if we could put off procrastinating ........?

    Deadlines are good, especially if they are set by someone else!

    1. I love deadlines especially the whooshing noise the make as they go by