Top 9 Ways Writers Procrastinate… and the one way to actually get the words on the page

standard November 19, 2013 2 responses

The first of November kicked off the 14th annual National Novel Writing Month wherein an insane number of writers (303 580 and counting to date)  try to write a 50 000 word novel in under 28 days.

What really happens is that over 300 000 writers sit around and find creative ways to procrastinate on writing the number of words they have to write every every day to reach their goal.

Oh, and if there’s anything writers are good at, it’s procrastinating. We’ve turned it into an art form. And we can justify every single way until we’re blue in the face.

Want to know how we do it? Sure thing.

1) Laundry.
It has to get done. It never goes away. And it’s awesome mindless work, which is perfect for brainstorming scenes, thinking up plot points, and letting your subconscious noodle away at that gnarly issue we’re facing with that uncooperative character.

2) Grocery shopping
Dude. Even writers have to eat. You can’t think without the right brain food. Plus, hanging around at grocery stores is a wonderful way to people watch. After all, you can’t create believable characters without watching real people.

3) Making coffee
Can’t write without coffee. Well, for me it’s tea. Either way, until we make the best seller list for the 10th time in a row, we have to make our own caffeinated beverages. Plus, it’s more of that mindless repetition stuff that helps get the creative juices percolating. Mmm percolate. Like coffee. See?

4) Reading
Everyone knows that to write you have to read and read lots. Such a shame when you get sucked into a good book and lose track of time… of writing time.

5) Preparing yourself so you can write.
There’s no shortage of software that exists solely so writers can organize their thoughts and stories. Scrivener is a top favorite. Within a couple hours you can have created character profiles, setting profiles, chapter outlines, and a million other things. What you won’t have done is written a single word. But hey, you’ll be ready to write…. That’s something, right?

6) Watching TV.
You know how to master great dialogue? Yup. You have to hear great dialogue. And you know where you can hear great dialogue? Yup. On TV. TV shows help you get your own dialogue flowing. It’s scientifically proven. Totally. I saw it on TV. Gotta watch TV. Lots and lots of TV. Plus, how else are you going to know how to write the screenplay to your novel if you don’t watch lots of TV shows and movies? Duh.

7) Writing a blog post
Nothing gets the creative juices flowing (you know, other than laundry and making coffee) faster than writing. The trick is to trick your brain into writing. So you start with something completely unrelated to what you’re supposed to be writing. It’s like tricking yourself into exercising by playing with the dog. Not that you guys are dogs. Or that I would ever do something like this. No… not me…

8) Checking email
Have to do it. Have to do it often. I mean, you never know when an urgent email is going to come through that needs super urgent attention. What if that happened after you got into the ‘zone?’ Then what? Huh? Better check and then better check again. Just in case. You just never know what’s waiting in there!

9) Internet research.
Has to happen. You can’t write about something you don’t know. There’s always something that has to be researched. Always. And then poof, it’s three days later , you haven’t eaten, you haven’t showered, and you’re not quite sure where your kids are, but hey, you’re the proud owner of a multi-cooker, have 57 recipes pinned to Pinterest, and a vague idea about what you were supposed to be looking up in the first place. Oh yeah, the top speed limit in Omaha. Wait. I’d better look that up. It’s a key plot point in my novel.

And the one thing we all know we have to do to write down the words? 
Easy. In theory.

Sit your butt down, turn off the Internet, put your fingers on the keys… and just start writing.

Because I am the queen of ADD, I find it easiest to do that if I set a timer first and then open OmmWriter. It shuts out all of the distracting bleeping and dinging my computer likes to throw at me. But that’s just me.

So, if you’ll excuse me, I have 2700 words to write. You know, after I make myself some coffee, and maybe get some lunch. It’s getting a little peckish around here…

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2 responses

  • Oh, you so have my number! I am having tons of trouble just getting words on the screen right now.

  • I must not have been procrastinating enough on the days after you published this because I missed it in my internet search. Wonderful. Not that I could relate in the slightest. Sharing. For research.

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