We writers turn procrastination into an art form: ‘I just need to do this first…’ Procrastination takes many guises. Here are a few that may sound familiar:
I can’t write in all this clutter
Clutter can be physical and/or psychological. It may feel like it is impossible to write if your desk is untidy. Your eyes travel further – around the room, the whole house, and before you know it the morning has gone. Even if you do tidy your desk, vacuum, load the dishwasher… there’s still the small matter of your cluttered brain telling you to walk the dog, pick up some shopping, pay a bill. Devise a schedule incorporating those ‘must do’ chores and writing time, allowing you guilt free blocks of time to get words on the page.
I can’t write unless…
For some writers, conditions have to be just right. You may need complete quiet – you can’t work if there are other people distracting you. Music might help – but don’t get distracted downloading tracks or reorganising your music library. Be organised and have your playlist sorted in advance. Or perhaps you just need a change of scene? Take yourself off to the library or your favourite coffee bar, where the buzz of conversation around you becomes white noise – you might even overhear a snippet of conversation you can incorporate into your latest work.
I can’t write until…
One method of procrastination that cunningly conceals itself as part of the writing process is ‘perfecting your technique’. Before you can write that masterpiece you need to know how to create believable characters, add tension or plot your novel. These skills can be developed by reading books, magazines and blogs on writing and/or attending writing courses. But be careful, this strategy is also great for ‘pretending to write’ – you can while away hours, days, weeks, even years…
However, the number one culprit of procrastination in my eyes is RESEARCH. Here you can justify just about any activity other than putting words on the page – googling characters names, locations and settings, historical events and dates, how to use a piece of equipment, your nom de plume – just in case you do get around to publishing. Use writing sessions for doing just that – getting words on the page. You can note down anything requiring research and do it later.
I can’t write – I’m just rubbish
Let’s not forget our critical friend, the self-editor. Sitting on your shoulder, having elbowed your muse out of the way, he whispers in your ear that everything you’ve written is completely rubbish. It all needs rewriting and you find you’ve gone over and over the same 500 words. Give yourself permission to write a first draft that isn’t that great – you can edit later. FocusMe can help by setting short blocks of time for you to sprint and ignore that critical voice. Try just moving forward without self-editing and send procrastination packing.
Did I forget something? Tell me in the comments below, what excuses do you find not to sit down and focus on writing?
About the author
Suzi Bamblett is in the final stages of her MA in Creative Writing at Brighton University. Her two YA fiction novels are soon to be published as e books: The Changeling and Pearl Seekers, and she is working on two further novels: The Travelling Philanthropist – a time slip novel, and Prescient Spirit – a gothic psychological thriller. Suzi writes short stories and poetry, and has published in Brighton University Anthologies – Small Worlds (2014) and Reflections (2015). Inspired by Suzi? – Find more on her blog broodleroo.