10 ways NOT to write a novel

There are really a million and one ways to not write a novel. And I’m guilty of most of them.

Okay, I’ve been procrastinating. I can’t really call it writer’s block because my head has been busting with ideas for the last couple of weeks, good ones too.

What I’m suffering from (or what I’m making myself suffer with) is a prolonged form of procrastination. I’ve become a master at it, you see. If it was an Olympic sport, I’d be the gold medallist.

It’s an evil and insidious thing this brain of mine. On the one hand it wants to write a novel, on the other it wants not to write. At the moment, the procrastination force is strong within me. Resistance may be futile. I could be fighting a losing battle.

I’m currently reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Will this help? Will it finally cure me of this mental virus that seems to infect all creatives at one time or another?

Or is it just another form of procrastination?

Anyway, here are 10 things that stop me from writing:

  1. Just a little catnap, to refresh the brain.
  2. What’s on TV? Normally another rerun of a programme I’ve seen ten times before on Dave.
  3. I’ll just have a quick drink to lubricate the creative wheels: I always make the mistake of sitting down on the sofa for my first one, just to get things going…three hours later…mmmm
  4. I’ll hoover the floor first. Something needs to be cleaned. Someone needs to do the washing up, don’t they. Right now. I’ll do some writing afterwards.
  5. I feel an insatiable need to spend money. Normally I’ll wander round town and buy absolutely nothing or I’ll buy something I’m never going to need, wear, put in my mouth, or juggle with.
  6. I should read something if I’m not writing. The least harmful of my procrastinations as it’s actually achieving something but for some strange reason this combines nicely with a catnap, as I generally read on the bed and after a couple of chapters will drift off into the land of nod.
  7. Oh, I wonder who’s online, who’s retweeted me, who’s commented on my blog. Major problem. We all know this one. If I spent as much time on my real writing as I do on my internet social media interaction, I’d have at least 300 novels written by now.
  8. I’ll start tomorrow at 6am. Write for 3 hours solid. I’ll start tomorrow at 6am. Write for 3 hours solid. I’ll start tomorrow at 6am. Write for 3 hours solid. I’ll start tomorrow at 6am. Write for 3 hours solid. One of my personal favourites that one. I file it under wishful thinking.
  9. I need to get myself fit. I’ll do some exercise first. I’ll have a cup of coffee. Oooh what’s that shiny thing over there…aka anything but writing time!
  10. And to finish off: Just a little catnap then…

I’ve only read the first part of Pressfield’s book. I’ll let you know a bit later if it works. But, by then, I might be taking a trip to the funny farm.

Okay, so now it’s your turn. What’s your favourite way of putting off writing? Let the Feckless Goblin know in the comments section below…

11 thoughts on “10 ways NOT to write a novel

  1. One of my most common ways is to sit down to write, then beat myself up over all the other things that need doing that should really take higher priority. Do I do them? No, but I fret about them and get nothing written.Like I said, my most common. Not a favorite, exactly, but most common.

  2. Yes yes yes yes yes yes YES! I could have written this post word-for-word. I’ve noticed myself doing a particularly deadly combination of #7 and the much more detestable surfing of Facebook for an HOUR or more before I even start writing. Consider that I only have 2 solid hours a day at best to write and you have a recipe for disaster. Or non productivity at least.Oh, and yes – my comment here indicates that I just stepped away (virtually) from my writing. Again. Though I do feel it was worth it because I really loved your post.

  3. I’m a sucker for #4. I convince myself that I simply can’t write in the horrific environment; I have to store away all my books, rearrange my DVD shelf and file a load of papers. Then it’s time to go to bed. I also have difficulty juggling my writing with my PhD work. Whenever I start writing I tell myself I should still be doing my ‘proper’ work.

  4. I’m writer number #2, #4, #5 and #6. I’m either reading, watching TV, playing DS games that I’ve become addicted to as much as when I used to play WoW each night, wander round town with no real purpose or I do cleaning. Last weekend I even cleaned the oven! That’s how much I was subconsciously procrastinating. And each week I tweeted I would at least do some plot planning to get me back in the mood but I haven’t. Instead I found myself starting off 3 novels at once! I think I’m just scared that my characters will just ignore me if I return to them. Although on a positive note I do plan to banish myself to the local library on saturday to get some hand planning done, as one of my favourite writer says he actually finds his dream writing spot, his study with books etc, is more distracting then the pub or a studio. So I’m going to see how a quiet library works out for me.

  5. Just finished the book, found it quite inspiring most of the way but got a little lost with the Angel and God references. Will have to give it another read, thankfully it’s quite short. Thanks for all your comments so far peeps

  6. I think my favorite way is to check Twitter or play mah jong. Mah jong is fatal! It used to be Farmville but I’ve managed to disassociate that one with writing time–finally! It’s interesting that you are reading The War of Art I wrote about this book myself on my own blog a few months ago. I just happened to find a copy of it at a little used bookstore I frequent. I’m interested to know how much it helps/doesn’t help you when you finish it.

  7. I often waste time playing the games on Facebook but occasionally I’ll get up to make some dinner or something, and then get so wrapped up in that, I forget I was writing in the first place. I only remember when I come back to the computer and see that blinking cursor judging me.

  8. Oh so recognisable. Most of these apply to me. Twitter, email, cleaning, exercising. I try not to beat myself up about it. I find competition deadlines help to focus the mind.Another great post.

  9. Oh dear — #3, 7, 8, & 9 all ring too true. Heading to #9 at the moment to do more #7 on the iPad. Ah, how technology aids procrastination!

  10. I loved your post-I’ve been struggling with this problem myself. Mine is “researching” on the internet. I’ll start off googling something useful for my writing. Until I look at the clock & realize I’ve wasted hours looking up stuff I didn’t need.

  11. Hey, I love Dave! Who cares if I know that episode by heart already? 😀

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