Friday, 19 June 2009

Thoughts on a writer's life: the art of procrastination

When my life is crammed full to bursting, and I feel as though I've got no time to sleep, or even to breathe, all I want to do is press pause. To slip away on my own and lose myself in the flow of writing.

After a manic couple of weeks in London on work experience, I came back to Falmouth. There's been a lot going on here too: saying goodbye to people leaving for the summer, course-related seminars and the inevitable random nights out that seem to just happen when you're living in a small town.

When I haven't written for a while, I find myself getting edgy. Ideas crowd my mind, keeping me awake at night or waking me up at 3am with the sudden urge to put pen to paper. I get frustrated with anything, and everything that's preventing me from writing.

But when I finally have the time I crave, I sometimes I find it hard to get started again. Procrastination takes over. Lately, this seems to be in the form of research: it feels like work, in reality, it's little different from all the other things I find to do that aren't actually writing.

I've met many other writers, including a number of successful published authors who admit that sometimes, they'll do almost anything except write.

Why, when it's the thing that we love the most, do we procrastinate?

But I've also heard that procrastination is an essential part of the writing process. While you're making the tenth cup of tea that day or checking your emails, your subconscious is actually hard at work, developing ideas, working through the problems with your plot, letting your characters develop. When you finally sit down to write, it seems as though the words flow as if channeled by divine inspiration.

However, I'm also aware that time marches on. The summer is fleeting: I have to make the most of my writing time now, because come the autumn, I know I'll be working.

I'll get back to work in a minute. Once I've checked my emails.


sara carney said...

I know the feeling, Fi. I've read about seventeen novels over the last three weeks - all in the name of research!! I've re-written the first page in first person pov instead of third and come to a full stop!! I don't have writer's block so much as writer's abject terror of the written word!! XX

Pete London said...

I go shopping at Asda, I check my emails, I restring my bouzouki, I have a nice big glass of wine, I sort of clean the car, I look at my favourite pictures of aeroplanes, I go for a lovely walk, I hoover, I build a spreadsheet of targets to be achieved next quarter ... you are not alone.

Pete x