Wednesday, 28 August 2013


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/Free Digital

If things aren't flowing on the writing front; if I'm not "in the mood"; if I need to change/correct/rewrite something I find myself creating Distractions and Delaying Tactics.

I say "I", but we all do it, and writers seem to be remarkably adept at coming up with excuses and reasons to just put off getting back to PC, laptop, tablet, pen and paper when things aren't going smoothly, and sometimes, even when they are.

Here's a few examples of some DandDTs I came up with today:
  • Decide to make Tomato Sauce as there's an abundance of tomatoes in greenhouse and we can't possibly eat them all unless we eat only tomatoes for every meal every day for the next week. Tell myself that sauce-making won't take long
  • Whilst in kitchen, waiting for tomatoes to roast, instead of using the time to dash into Writing Room and write one or two hundred words, come up with idea of making pesto to put in freezer, something I've been meaning to do for past few days. Convince myself this is a very necessary job, as all five basil plants are now flowering, and their leaves are the size of saucers, and if I leave the pesto making even one more day, it will be too late.
  • Make "To Take" list for forthcoming holiday
  • Spend time in affectionate communication with cat
  • Finally, find some remnants of self-discipline, and go to Writing Room with great intentions; but
     when there, realise tomatoes will be ready in 15 minutes. Look at draft of latest novel, think, look out of window, curse under breath, and return to kitchen telling myself I can't get focussed for a mere quarter-of-an-hour.  Brush to one side the fact that I didn't try, so I am talking rubbish
  • Pick up Italian phrase book and try to memorise for umpteenth time "That was delicious" ("Era squisito!") so can be complimentary in restaurant, should meal deserve it
  • Take tomatoes out of oven, and make sauce, which is far more fiddly, and takes far longer than I imagined (no, if I'm honest, I knew it would take ages, but pretended it wouldn't)
  • Check emails
  • Make cup of tea
  • Put dishes away in cupboard
  • Spend time in affectionate communication with other cat
  • Remember haven't posted friend's birthday card; even though friend's birthday is four days away, somehow feel it is necessary to post her card now, this very instant.
  • Go into garden for wander about. See weed. See several more weeds. Just have to pull them up.
  • Because I'm now feeling guilty at all this procrastination, go back to Writing Room, hoping that inspiration and enthusiasm might strike in equal portions. Laptop has closed itself down; on desk scribbles in notebook are barely decipherable; one of cats has sat on notebook and page is covered with bits of fur and assorted dross; empty coffee mug, and plate with scattered toast crumbs from yesterday not very appealing. Sort out drawers and empty wastepaper basket.
  • Decide that I might as well accept that I've distracted and delayed this day away, and am not going to be productive in a creative, writing kind of a way today.
    Make vow that tomorrow will get up early, and immediately after breakfast will go straight to Writing Room and write, despite whatever else is going in. Will ignore such things as ironing, cat-smoothing (unless cat is sitting on desk and this can be done whilst writing).
    Will try to accept that Distractions and Delaying Tactics are all part of a writer's life, and so long as they don't happen too frequently, and I don't beat myself up for being weak and lacking in self-discipline, I'll accept the fact that maybe there's a reason I need to take a breather for a while, step back, smooth the cat, do a few unnecessary things, before returning to my wonderful world of writing.

    I'd love to hear what distractions and delaying tactics you use.

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