RACHAEL LUCAS!!!! I’m SO excited to have Rachael on my blog today. I’ve been a fan and followed Rachael’s story (stalked) for a while now. Rachael isn’t just a great writer (her latest book Wildflower Bay – Part 1 is OUT NOW, and on my kindle for my next read) but she’s a great person. Well, either that, or every time a message from me pops up on her phone she pours herself a gin. Either way, over to Rachael and her post about procrastination.
I was going to sit down and write something helpful like FIVE WAYS TO FIND THE TIME TO WRITE or HOW TO JUGGLE FOUR CHILDREN AND WRITING or something like that.
You know the sort of thing – the ones you read and think ooh, I’m definitely going to take those hints on board, and next time I sit down to write I’m going to be super efficient and organised.
The thing is – it would be a lie. I’m appallingly bad at finding the time to write. Very good at finding the time to stand at the kitchen worktop burning dinner and tweeting. Excellent at sitting in Costa reading a magazine and looking out of the window. And yet the books get written, somehow. A post on HOW TO HIT DEADLINES WHILST PROCRASTINATING WILDLY doesn’t sound quite so appealing, mind you.
But I’ve learned that procrastinating wildly is actually part of the process for me. This morning when I was supposed to be writing this (and about fifteen other things, and doing a million other publication day related activities) I decided instead to drive across the countryside to go and try on riding hats. (There is a logical reason for that. As a random displacement activity it would have been a bit odd, even by my standards.)
As I was driving along listening to dodgy songs from the 90s a snippet of thought from the character I’m trying to write floated into my head and lodged itself there, waiting in an obliging manner until I could stop and scribble it down. And as if by magic, whilst faffing, I have the beginnings of the prologue for book five – proof that procrastination can actually be useful writing time.
I spend ages floating around, scribbling bits of ideas down in notepads which I then lose. I type character sketches into my phone. I drive early to school and sit in the best car park space (the one where you can see them come out so you don’t have to stand freezing your arse off in the middle of winter) and watch people and think. It all looks like I’m doing nothing, but that’s where the stories come alive.
If you’re thinking this is basically an extended justification for wasting time online, avoiding boring housework, and spending a fortune in coffee shops, you’d be right. The good thing about it? By the time I’ve done all that, the deadline is usually looming, and that gives me The Fear (I suspect because I’m always convinced someone’s going to come along and tell me I’ve been found out, and I’ll have to go and get a proper job). So the work gets done. And then I write blog posts which end up being HOW TO HIT DEADLINES WHILST PROCRASTINATING WILDLY – because it’s the only thing I can talk about with any authority.
(Well, that, and what’s happening on Twitter.)
My new book Wildflower Bay is published by Pan Macmillan. It’s released as an exclusive three part ebook serial starting today, and will be available in the shops in paperback on 11th August.
We’ve been sick this week. Properly poorly. It started last Friday night when one child came down with a temperature, but he soldiered through the weekend just being grumpy and bad-tempered like he always is, and we thought we were winning. Then in the middle of the night on Sunday the other one woke up with a fever. This carried on onto Monday, and by the time Mr Aimee was home from work not only was 1 small child feeling fairly crummy, so were both adults. Fast forward to today, and we’ve nearly all recovered. Nearly being the operative word, my chest is still not ‘run outside in the cold’ ready, and the amount of snot on sleeves (not mine) is ridiculous.
But I have a deadline, one which I need to hit, otherwise publication date is implicated, and I am not letting some bo-jangled version of the flu ruining my summer release date.
However, I don’t know about you, but there are just too many excuses not to knuckle down and write. In fact, procrastination and excuses are the biggest reason I’m not further on with Dottie. I should have been FLYING by now! So with that in mind, I’m facing things erm, face on, and I’m kicking some procrastination ass.
I have too much work to do first.
As loathed as I was to admit it, paid work always comes first. Well, while there are ASOS sales, and new fitness gear (ahem) to be purchasing, paid work will always come first. I’m not saying my books don’t pay, I think I’ve done blooming well to be honest, but, well, I don’t need to tell you writing books is for the love not the money *sob*.
ANYWAY. Do you know how I’ve overcome this little issue. SPRINTS. One of my friends started me on it when I attempted my first ever NaNoWriMo. We’d get online together, and she’d say “right 20 minute sprint – GO GO GO” and we’d go. It’s amazing how many words you can get out when you are focusing.
I got out of the habit, let life and work swallow me up, but recently I’ve been coming home from the school run, and on the days I have work work, instead of novel work, instead of a long leisurely breakfast I’ve been sprinting. Half an hour at the beginning of the day, half an hour at the end of it.
ON IT LIKE A CAR BONNET.
I just need to check Facebook/Twitter/Social Media…
No you don’t. You think you do, but you don’t. In fact, unless you write 1,000 words you’re not allowed on. GO GO GO.
No, seriously though. Social Media is my biggest suck in. Turn the internet off from your writing device. Switch off alerts. Those stupid POINTLESS quizzes you’re doing? Really? You’re using your free fifteen minutes to work out which disney ducking princess you’re going to be? I can tell you now which one you’ll be – the one that’s your favourite that you’ll tailor your answers towards. THAT is why I’m aways Ariel because I always liked her hair and was secretly in awe of Ursula’s bosoooms!
This is my key tip to be honest. Wasted in number two of five. REWARD YOURSELF. Hit a word count target, and then go on social media/browse shopping/get a brew and a biscuit.
But it’s all shit.
I’ve told you. IT’S GOING TO BE SHIT TO BEGIN WITH! I’m sorry, not because you’re shit, you’re not at all, actually you are awesomeness personified, but, the first draft is. I KEEP TELLING YOU (and myself) this. But sometimes telling yourself this isn’t enough, and I undersand. I am a total loser when it comes to writing books, I’m NEEDY.
If you’re trying to complete your first novel, you need to find to find some good Beta readers. They need to be honest, but kind. You need to expect them to say “er, no, that’s not good” but rely on them to say “you’re doing it! This is good! You can do this!”
I am lucky, I have some awesome readers, those who I send stuff too and they are honest.
If you’ve published before, self or via more traditional methods, go and read a good review. GO ON DO IT. It’s not vain, you deserved your review, and you deserve the reminder that you did it before, and you can only do it again, better this time!
My kids social life is better then mine.
I don’t know about you, but my kids have a better social life then me. What with tennis, swimming and homework, not to mention birthday parties, any free time where you thought you could bin them off in their bedrooms and grab a spare hour are quickly gobbled up.
Before I decided to write stories properly (i.e. not for my eyes only), I could write anywhere. Post-it’s next to the bed, notes in my phone, a quick ten minutes while an egg was boiling, you name it I did it, but somewhere along the line, I tried to get too ‘proper’ about it, and over the last few years I got into the habit of only being able to write if I was sitting in my study, with the right play list, my desk laid out in a certain way.
It got a bit shit to be honest. I was so busy making sure I was writing properly, I wasn’t actually writing.
AH HA! I can tell from that guilty look that you feel the same. There are loads of ways, in a notepad and typing up, tapping into an email in your phone, or investing in a keyboard to fit with your tablet. I have started to be able to sync quite nicely between iPad and mac, and I’ll write a post on that next week and how easy it is, especially for somebody so pernickety!
But I just want to finish this book.
Oh. This is the one time you are excused. Well, as long as you don’t use this excuse every time you don’t want to write.
Don’t make the mistake of replacing valuable reading time with writing. After all, the more you read, the more you learn. Just saying.
This post is linked in with the #WhatImWriting linky hosted over at @rantybeast and @writingbubble. Click below to check out this weeks posts.