You can’t even fire up the Googler these days without stumbling over advice about How to Keep Your Writing on Track! Finish that Manuscript! Write a Novel in 10 Days or Your Money Back! But, as every writer knows, procrastination is an important part of the game. Where’s the advice about quality time-wasting? Nowhere, that’s where! And a crying shame it is, too.
So here are some handy tips I’ve come up with, to help when you find you’re being Just Too Productive.
Jess Faraday’s Tips for More Effective Procrastination
- Games. Nothing moves a manuscript along like a little Farmville, or perhaps Words With Friends. It’s words, right? It counts! Or maybe a nice multi-player RPG? It’ll help you develop your plot and give you ideas, right? Right! Let’s go!
- Social Media. It’s all about promotion. Interact with your readers. Or pick a fight with a perfect stranger about some overblown political point. It’s hard to work when Someone on the Internet is Wrong. You can do a new blog entry about it. Check your stats at Amazon and Goodreads. Write a few reviews. Be social! Interact!. Or just look at some pictures of cats.
- TELL everyone all about the amazing book you’re GOING TO write. That way you can feel like you’ve put in a full day’s work without having done a thing!
- Clean house. As everyone knows, every Great Author has a tidy desk and an immaculate domicile. Besides, you know you can’t get started until every little thing is in its place and the dust bunnies have been vanquished, so what are you waiting for? Get on it! This place isn’t going to clean itself! Ooo, is that laundry?
…an hour and a half later….
Oh yes, where was I?
- Exercise. How can you work with the waistband of your jeans cutting into your tummy? Change into sweats, you say? Amateur! Obviously what you need is to head to the gym for an hour or two. It’ll also help to get rid of that nervous energy that keeps you from settling into the manuscript. You can use the time to work through that thorny spot in your plot. You know, the one your writing group says Doesn’t Work For Them. Either that, or you can watch the court shows on the gym TV. Your call.
- Another Cup of Coffee. There. Now you’re set to work. How about a sip of coffee to get started? Ah. Better. Now, let’s reread what we’ve got so far. Sip. Read. Change a comma. Sip—oops! Out of coffee! Better start again.
- Watch TV, go to a museum, or go to the movies. Sometimes you need to surround yourself with multisensory reminders of the setting you’re trying to create in your story. Or catch up on the last fifteen seasons of The Simpsons. Or something.
- The Day Job. Wow, you are desperate for distraction, aren’t you? Well, maybe this is one you should be doing. I mean, how much time have you spent slacking off of the day job to work on your novel? At least try to look like you’re making an effort. That is, until Speilberg comes asking about the movie rights.
If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing right. And that includes procrastination. So, get right on it! Or…put it off until you feel more like it.