I know you think you’re already pretty good at Doing Anything But Writing, but stick with me kid, and I will make you a STAR. For ten years, my novel was only one page long. I dare you to beat that. Plus, I can even make you feel good about yourself, while you procrastinate. How many procrastination mentors can offer you that?
1. Attend another writing conference or seminar
If one conference or seminar is good, more must be better, right? And we definitely need to improve our craft. Hone those writing skills. And then hone them some more. Think about that word ‘hone’ and you’ll find a clue to why this one is so effective. If you’re honing an axe, you can’t be chopping wood with it at the same time, can you?
With the wealth of online courses available now, you’re not restricted just to the ones in your local area. Heck, a course each weekend is absolutely achievable!
Take care not to realise that you could actually increase your skills by the process of writing your novel – that would defeat the procrastination purpose.
2. Do some more research
This can be as big or as small as you like, depending on your budget and your introvert/extrovert tendencies. For homebodies, it might just mean surfing the web a few more hours a day. But if you crave a bit of human contact you can also extend it to going to the library, or interviewing yet another expert by Skype or even in person.
It can also involve travel! Get your passport up to date and start thinking. (It is not entirely coincidental that my current Work in Progress and the plots for the books to follow it are set in fabulous tourist destinations.) (I told you I was good at this.)
3. Watch some more television shows in your genre
This one is really a subset of point 2. I’m writing a thriller, so there’s plenty of shows on telly that can give me ideas for methods and techniques and ways to handle dialogue. Whatever your genre, no doubt there’s shows that could feed your writerly imagination too. Why stop at watching only one or two? There’s a whole world of television out there. And what’s not to love about a procrastination method that allows you to turn something that looks very much like being a couch potato into Working On Your Novel?
If you’re really diligent at this one, you’ll be able to avoid writing your novel almost indefinitely.
Power tip: Keep a notebook at your side while lolling in front of the telly, and scribble notes in it from time to time. This will reassure your family, and even yourself, that you are indeed Working.
4. Do some more work on your author platform
I love this one. It reminds me of some sage advice I received, way back when I was in my very first job, about the surefire way to look busy and productive: Walk fast and carry a clipboard. The high-tech equivalent of this for the modern author (published, pre-published, emerging, whatever) is: Blog till you drop and Twitter till you jitter. You know you have to.
How can anybody ever buy your book, or how can you even get an agent or a publisher, if you haven’t established yourself as an expert (for non-fiction) or built up a community of friends who like to read your stuff and interact with you? This is a good one, because everyone who’s been paying attention to changes in the publishing world knows it’s true.
And if you never actually seem to get your book finished for the reading pleasure of all these agents, publishers and buyers, because you’re so busy building your platform, who can possibly criticise?
5. Make excuses
The options here are as wide as your imagination. Here are a few to get you started:
- I am too old/too young/too busy
- I can’t get started in the mornings
- I can’t find my desk under all the research I’ve been doing
- The dog ate my first chapter
- I’m not in the right mood, and I can’t possibly write unless I’m in the right mood (This has been a favourite of mine for many years. Who cares that many a bestselling author says it’s not true? What would they know?)
6. Deny yourself the opportunity to write, because other things are more Worthy
This one is an absolute corker! It singlehandedly held my novel to one page for a decade. This is how it works: Feel guilty about writing your novel, because you should be spending more time with your family/curing cancer/volunteering at the charity shop/praying/____(insert Worthy task of personal choice).
Take care not to let the following thought cross your mind, as it might undermine your procrastination resolve: How many other things do I spend/waste time on during the average week that are not nearly as satisfying as my writing, and yet ALSO are NOT spending more time with my family/curing cancer/volunteering at the charity shop/praying/___(insert Worthy task of personal choice)?
You don’t want to think too hard about that little thought, or you might find that, even by the harshest of measures, your novel is just as deserving of your time as half the other things you do.
7. Write a blog post entitled: Seven Ways to Avoid Writing Your Novel
Well, I think that one speaks for itself. Enjoy your TV show – I might see you at that seminar later.