With a book deadline looming it’s highly likely you’ll find me hunched for hours in the same position, feverishly working on… defrosting the freezer. Or weeding the veg beds. Or, frankly, anything other than what I’m supposed to be doing. If procrastination is the thief of time, I’m constantly complicit in the crime. When I asked Twitter ‘how do writers procrastinate?’ the responses made me laugh out loud. I’ve picked some of the best here.
How do writers procrastinate?
My name’s Angela and I’m a procrasti-kondo. Before I settle down to work I need to declutter. But then I take my Marie Kondo level living to a whole new level. This really is the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying in action. Life-changing, because I’m not actually doing my job. There is not a cupboard nor a drawer in my home I have not reorganised. My word count can wait, while I fold my clothes into the perfect neat envelopes of colour coordination the Japanese organising consultant suggests. Did you know you can fold socks? And it makes them happy? My shop perfect rainbow drawers certainly spark joy in me. I am in control of my environment. This will save me so much time. This will make me so productive. Let me just tackle my desk drawer…
Angela Clarke’s latest book is ON MY LIFE, described by Katerina Diamond as ‘her best yet.’
The problem with writing books is that the rewards are very far away. They take a year to write, and another year after that to hit the bookshops. No wonder it feels like I have all the time in the world. Left to my own devices, I can waste whole weeks on the internet but this year, horrified by my social media addiction, I bought internet blocking software and had to find old-school ways to not write my book. This summer, with a deadline charging towards me, I swam the length of the English channel three times in my local pool. Facebook and Twitter made me loath my own weakness but swimming feels virtuous. I’m investing in my health after eight hours typing in a swivelly chair. With no distractions, my mind wanders to my story and I’ve had more than one plot breakthrough in a slimy council pool. Hang on, I’m not really procrastinating at all, am I?
Erin Kelly, author of STONE MOTHERS, a gripping psychological thriller now out in paperback.
I’m Vicky Newham, and I’m a procrasti-gardener. It’s
surprising how urgently the lawn needs mowing sometimes, and there’s nothing like a bit of dead-heading, pruning and weeding when the plot holes niggle. It’s a good job those gloves and secateurs come in useful for other things … That’s all I can say.
Vicky Newham is the author of OUT OF THE ASHES, a fast paced crime thriller featuring DI Maya Rahman.
There’s a standing joke in our house that you can always tell when there’s a new book on the way when a skip arrives on the front drive. I start waving Marie Kondo around and tossing things into charity boxes and the family start barricading themselves in their rooms out of self-preservation. I’m not quite sure why I feel it necessary to declutter the entire house (and garage, and garden) before I start writing but I like to think it’s Essential Thinking Time and definitely not procrastination. Not even a tiny bit. The only trouble is that this year I’ve written two books, not one, and the house is starting to look a little bit bare. Luckily I’ve recently embraced procrasti-baking, so the empty shelves will be full of brand new baking equipment before you know it. Just got to do some procrasti-shopping, first…
Rachael Lucas also writes as Rosie Curtis, whose debut novel WE MET IN DECEMBER is out now in the UK and in the US.
My name is N J Simmonds and I write urban fantasy romance. I love to procrastinate creatively – I’m a procrast-designer! Because of my marketing background I like to waste time tinkering about creating book graphics, updating my website and making animated book aesthetics. All in the misguided belief it helps sell books (it’s kind of relaxing and fun too!)
N J Simmonds’ latest release is THE PATH KEEPER, described as ‘a world full of danger, lies and magic’.
My name is Mason, and I’m a procrasti-spreadsheeter. This turned out to be one of the more useful displacement activities I’ve discovered when on a book deadline. A couple of years ago I decided that before I could do any further work on my novel I ABSOLUTELY HAD TO itemise the contents of our freezer. This involved clearing out every shelf, recording the stock on a spreadsheet in separate colour-coded columns (meat, poultry, fish, veg, unidentifiable substances in Tupperware, dessert, and so on), and rearranging in a more orderly configuration. It’s actually brilliant. We’ve cut down on takeaways because we always know what food we have available and can plan meals around it. I can tell you precisely how many hot dog buns I have in the freezer at this moment – go on, test me. How’s the book coming on? Erm…
Mason Cross’s latest book (written as M J Cross) is WHAT SHE SAW LAST NIGHT, set on the Caledonian Sleeper from Scotland to London.
Veronica Henry, multi-bestselling author and self-proclaimed foodie, gives us all the perfect excuse not to write.
Here is my recipe for Procrasticake. It’s pretty uncomplicated, so you can allow your plot to untangle itself while you make it. Which means it’s not procrastinating at all. Win!
150g white chocolate
300g golden caster sugar
250ml full milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 eggs – beaten
250g SR flour
1/2 tsp bicarb
200g raspberries or blueberries
1 23cm cake tin, greased and lined
Preheat oven to fan 140C
Melt the chocolate, butter, sugar, milk and vanilla in a heavy bottom pan. Cool slightly then beat in the egg. Fold in the flour and bicarb. Stir in the fruit. Pour it into the tin and cook for one hour.
Veronica Henry’s most recent book is A HOME FROM HOME, a feel-good family drama crossing three generations.
So, how do writers procrastinate? With alarming regularity and impressive creativity. It’s a wonder we get any books written at all…
If you’re looking for something I absolutely didn’t
procrastinate over, not at all, well maybe just a little bit, my latest novel is AFTER THE END. It spent seven weeks in the Sunday Times top ten hardback chart, and I’m almost as pleased with it as I am with my newly defrosted freezer.
Ellen Best says
Oh dear I did not realise that was what it was until I read it here. I too Kondo, already Kondoed things. Yesterday I found myself Pre Kondo work to-do. That is when I sparked joy in the laundry basket knowing I would re-Kondo when I took the linen upstairs. Oh, but I do not procrastinate … if asked.