Yesterday, Lauren Beukes posted a link to a very interesting article at The Atlantic about writers and a tendency towards procrastination.
Having worked in a team of writers, I can attest to the truth of the genus scrivenus tending to seek any possible distraction in place of putting word after word in a document. I’m guilty of it myself. I’ve even asked myself if creating a blog isn’t just a form of procrasti-writing. I’m posting on my blog, see, that’s writing, see? Yes, it is writing, but it’s not writing the thing that I supposedly want to write more than anything else. I’m sometimes honest about this — my “About” page here admits that I often spend time “finding new and interesting ways to avoid working on a novel” — but more often than not I avoid thinking about it.
As an example, today I did manage to write a couple of hundred words but during that time, I also:
- Played far too many games of Bejeweled Blitz.
- Downloaded Calibre and futzed around with converting documents.
- Attempted to send a single chapter to my own Kindle using .mobi, .azw3 and various other formats, only to get bounce mails.
- Grumbled and rummaged around for a solution on the internet. Found it, and finally got the doc onto my Kindle. Realized that I could have just plugged the Kindle into my computer and transferred the file directly with zero hassle. Facepalmed. Called self a moron for 3 minutes.
- Watched last night’s Under the Gunn and wrote a recap of it for my Tumblr.
- Fell down a Tumblr-hole for half an hour.
- Made and drank 4 cups of coffee.
- Thought about what I should cook for dinner tonight. Decided on steak. Checked that I did actually have steak to cook.
- Considered logging in to my current MMO and leveling one of my lowbies, decided against it. Have dailies and weeklies to do with my guild later.
- Considered starting to watch Season 2 of House of Cards, but decided to save it for the weekend.
- Watched the new AskOB with Tatiana Maslany because it showed up in my Facebook feed and April is too long to wait for more Orphan Black.
If there was an Olympics of procrastination, I would probably come home with a medal. Assuming I actually got there and didn’t procrastinate myself into an apathetic pose in an armchair and miss the entire thing because the wind changed and I got stuck there.
Reading that article, I’m pretty sure I don’t have impostor syndrome or a medal-needing complex. I’m a Gen X-er for a start, and I’m also automatically suspicious of praise which has little to do with Gen X and more to do with expecting any praise to be immediately followed by a “BUT” and some criticism.
I think my procrastination is more basic.
I may have some magpie DNA, for I am easily distracted by shiny things. My WIP is most emphatically not a shiny thing. It is all ragged edges and needs much graft to batter it into a recognizable shape. Then it needs editing and rewrites and more editing and then copy-editing and all that jazz. Except that process is less jazzy and more dirge-like.
I’ve managed, over the past week or so, to batter the first chapter into third-draft shape, and it was a painful process. I did this to avoid trying to scale the narrative hump I encountered in chapter three. I now have to parse through chapters two and three to catch any stray references to an important incident in the first chapter which changed completely between drafts. I opened Scrivener today and immediately wanted to take a nap. Or more accurately, go and hide under my duvet and ignore the work that I know I have to do. It would be so much easier if I had a deadline, and a boss to answer to. But I have neither, and so instead of knuckling down I am here, writing this blog post.
If I keep this up for another 90 minutes, I can log on and faff around with my guildies for the night and forget about getting any more writing done.
But if nothing else, writing this has made me a little bit ashamed of how easily distracted I can be. So I’ll click publish and alt-tab over to Scrivener and put those 90 minutes to good use.
Or at least 80 of them, I mean, I do need another cup of coffee….