You’ll discover the wonderful irony of this blog post as I get going, procrastination is an ever present curse…
I’m currently sat in the local coffee shop, with two fellow writer friends, writing novel number two, whilst novel number one is with an editor. And, of course, after every word I type I am checking my emails, which is roughly every two seconds. Even though I know in all probability I’m not going to get a response any time soon, because editors are very, very busy people.
And so instead of plodding on with novel two (I will come back to this) I have decided to procrastinate – first by sorting out new social media names and blog links (goodbye @InstinctiveMum and hello @jfaulknerwriter) and second by writing this blog post. It’s the very first one on my shiny new author’s website and focused mostly on writing and not parenting. I am of course mainly writing this post so the next time I am in this situation I have something to read and refer to and get comfort from because, so I am reliably informed, the waiting does not get any easier.
So here are my top seven tips for surviving that hideous in between period – when you’ve done all you can do with your work in progress, and you’ve tweaked and fiddled and edited until you’ve lost all perspective and have sent your manuscript off to an agent or an editor.
- Write. Maybe, for example, a blog post. There’s always something you can write about. It’s great procrastination, plus it allows you to find a home for all of the superbly awesome adverbs you’ve not been allowed to write in your novel.
- Catch up with old friends. Send out numerous texts and await replies. Meet them for coffee, for lunch, for wine, and DO NOT TAKE YOUR PHONE. Or if you do take your phone switch off email notifications. You can put your hand to better use by using it to transfer wine or gin or cake to your mouth.
- WRITE. (Yes…I know I am repeating number one a little bit here – but it’s important.) Don’t stop writing. Articles, blog posts, short stories, the next novel. Never stop. Busy your mind with new characters and new plots. Do it, do it, do it. I do try however, most of the time, not to faff about anymore or even look at the draft of whatever I’ve been working on and have sent off. I recommend you close the file on your computer and/or put a paper copy in your bottom desk drawer because a) you’re more than likely to discover a gaping plot hole and cringe, and b) you may edit it in a very different direction to how your agent/editor feels it should go and end up creating even more work for yourself.
- Give the dog an extra walk and…obviously…do not take your phone. Clear out cupboards, have a spring clean, go for a swim, shop, or bake. Do all of the things you’ve put on hold because you’ve been head down and meeting a deadline. Basically keep your hands busy so they don’t keep picking up your phone and checking your emails. How you keep your hands busy is up to you….
- Observe. Jot down new ideas. Listen to conversations. Go to different places and make notes about them. You never know what will inspire you, plus getting out of the house is by far more enjoyable than stewing in it, unless of course the weather is pants, in which case stay in and have a hot bath. Or do number 6.
- Read. All writers know how important, and fun, reading is. Read something you wouldn’t normally pick up – you can learn just as much from a novel you don’t like/enjoy as you can from one you can’t put down. And watch films. I like to notice plot twists and when exactly in the movie they happen. (thanks for this tip Emily!) It’s nearly always at the same time. There’s definitely a formula and it’s also interesting to see how plot points and character motivation are set up/revealed in dialogue.
- WRITE. WRITE. WRITE. I know. I need to take my own advice now, don’t I?!
Have you got any more tips? I’m only a week in and quite probably have a few more to go….help me!!!