Five procrastination clichés and how to overcome them.

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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. 

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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!

 

  1. 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!

 

  1. 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.

Muddled Manuscript

Comments

  1. Nicola Young

    These are all spot on. I did the sprints during Nano too and was surprised how effective they were. I didn’t think I could do them, but when sat in cafe Nero with a bunch of other writers, the competitive me came out and it was a case of who could get the most words done in 20 minutes. Sad, but true!

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  2. Alison V King

    This post is brilliant but I love the blog in general. You have such a warm, conversational tone and I can relate to so many of the points you make. Thanks for brightening my day! ☀️

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  3. Mummy Tries

    Hilarious as always Aimee! I’m sobbing too at writing for the love not the money – why can’t it be both? We had a spate of illness in December and it just swallows up all your time doesn’t it. Hope everyone is on the mend now lovely xx #whatimwriting

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  4. Sophie Lovett

    All so true… The social media thing especially. I tell myself it’s sort of like working, and then I blame my agent for making me go on twitter to build an ‘online presence’, and then I remind myself there’s no point in having an online presence if there’s no novels to promote… You get the picture. The reading thing though – that’s often been the first thing to go when I need to focus, but I think my writing’s suffered as a result. So now I’m a reader again! But it’s not going to get in the way on my writing… x

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      Aimee

      Oh Sophie, I’m the same, reading always comes second as I tend to go for the easy ‘box set’ option if I need to have some downtime, and like you I can tell the difference!

      Social media is a vicious circle, and unless people have to promote themselves I don’t think everyone understands! Good luck mrs x

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  5. Marie Murphy Duess

    Great blog post! And so on the mark…I’ve used every excuse. But I have found that I’m more productive the busier I am…writing is my escape from everything else. Now, that reminds me…I should be writing right now.

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  6. Iona@redpeffer

    Yes, absolutely spot on. Although I’m generally quite good at self discipline my biggest issue is the self doubt-that always nags away at me every time. That is the biggest hurdle I find and the one I need to banish. I like the idea of reminding yourself of positive reviews/comments to help with this-definitely going to try it out 🙂

  7. Maddy@writingbubble

    Oh it’s all so true! There are great tips in there too like sprinting and rewards. One of my problems is I’m extremely suggestible – you only had to mention a cup of tea in this post and I was off making myself one. I’m the same with writing… my character has a meal, I’m off looking in the kitchen cupboards, they have a drink, I’m in the fridge, they go for a run, I’m googling running shoes. Agree with you about reading being allowable procrastination tho. And watching nordc noir defs counts as ‘research’ for my mystery thriller! Thanks for linking to #WhatImWriting. Another fab post!

  8. Emily Organ

    Yes I can relate to all of these, luckily I’ve talked myself out of many of my excuses now as I’d been putting them in the way for so long. Social media is something I like to think I’m well trained on these days – ignoring it where possible and keeping my time on it limited. Although I’ve lapsed in the past few days and put lots of crap on there. I would also include the Daily Mail’s sidebar of shame – time and time again I pause writing for some ‘research’ only to find myself on a related article on the Daily Mail site and clicking on Cheryl Fernando Versace (or whatever she is) to see her new hairstyle.

  9. Tanya

    Thanks Aimee – all things I’m guilty of and overall great, straight up advice down to the last point about reading. I’m in the process of trying to fit in some dedicated writing windows but these could be complimented by the those sprints!

  10. Morgan Prince

    I love these tips, they’re all true. I’m guilty of the ‘but it’s all shit’ – I suffer from self-doubt so often it’s scary. It’s debilitating and stops me writing for months on end. I’m hoping my 30 min bursts will help me beat this. Brilliant post, thanks for sharing Aimee. xx #WhatImWriting

  11. Helen

    Thank you for this. I can really identify with some of these – my particular bugbear is the paid work, but I love the idea of sprints. Otherwise I’m terrible for mithering around not quite getting my paid work done, thinking about my own projects at the same time, but never being able to justify to myself taking clear time for these things.

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