Monday, March 5, 2012
The Pinnacle of Procrastination
There’s been a lot of talk lately on various blogs and writer’s groups about the fine art of procrastination at which writers appear to be so incredibly adept.
I know from years of experience that things like doing the ironing and mowing the lawn can all, on occasions, become far more riveting and urgent than writing. When it reaches these levels, you know you’ve got a bad bout of procrastination, because, let’s face it, who in their right mind would rather iron than write? (I hasten to add, that I do draw the line at vacuuming the house.)
As a master procrastinator who can spend days and weeks researching, creating mood boards, sourcing character representations (which, like Sue Hyams, usually involve Ben Barnes), creating video trailers, which will never see the light of day, and cover art, which equally will never move beyond my pinboard, there is little I don’t know about not sitting down to write.
But in this last year I have found the Pinnacle of Procrastination and I advise all of you to try it if you want to heighten and hone your procrastinatory skills: build a house.
Oh yes, building a house will not only take you away from your research, your characterization, your mood boards, your video trailers, your faux cover art, it will take you right away from your desk. You will stop reading anything but décor magazines and websites. Your Twitter status updates will change from #amwriting to #housebuilding. You will find yourself gazing at finishes and fittings for days, you will find yourself sourcing images to create multiple mood-books, you will spend hours in site meetings and discussions. You will tell your build team that you really, really need to go and write and you will rush away, only to once more start Googling “contemporary light fittings” or “modern garden design”.
Then you will find yourself waking up at 3am in the morning with your characters kicking the inside of your brain. You’ll mumble, “Yes, yes, later. I’m too tired now. I had a long day looking at taps; I’ll deal with you in the morning.” And of course you won’t. Your characters, thus rejected, will start turning up in your dreams, they will haunt your gym sessions and you will, occasionally even call your project manager by your character’s name. But you will still not write.
And why? Because you know full well that once you do actually sit down to write, the muse will seize you by the nose hairs, smash your face against the keyboard for daring to go AWOL, and writing will then become a source of procrastination for not getting on with the important business of choosing tiles and blinds.
It is, I advise, at this point that you should resort to chocolate. Or drink. Truly, it is the only way.
Excuse me while I now run away and indulge in a spot of photography.
For further enlightenment on procrastination – I direct you to these excellent blog posts:
Sue Hyams on How to Start a Novel
Sally Poyton guesting blogging on Notes from the Slushpile on Procrastination Tools for Writers.