How to Procrastinate Writing Your Novel in 10 Easy Steps

Writing a novel may sound fun when an idea for plot or characters pop into your head, but when you get right down to it, it’s hard, gritty work. Fortunately for you, there are myriad ways to put off that pesky writing while still being able to call yourself a writer.

Here’s my tried and true procrastination process.

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1. Make the perfect playlist

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Behind every good novel is an even better writing playlist. Whether you use specific songs to set the mood for specific scenes, or you’re just going for an overall thematic playlist, get those tunes in your ears before you start trying to make words. Spotify is my favorite tool for this.

2. Craft an elaborate inspiration blog on Tumblr for when you need to zap your imagination back into high gear.

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Sometimes you just need to turn on the aforementioned playlist and spend an hour scrolling through your carefully curated stream of photos of towering castles and moody, mist-filled deciduous forests. The words will come if you stare at the screen long enough.

3. Cry.

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It’s a rite of passage, really. Lather, rinse, repeat.

4. Make tea.

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Tea is to writers what blood is to vampires, or what SoulCycle is to TV actors. Embrace it. Try fifty different kinds before you find your blend. Try fifty different kinds and make them all your blend. Use it as an excuse to spend hours on Etsy choosing exactly the right writing-tea mug.

5. Drink tea.

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If you got distracted by your novel or, more likely, by Netflix, and left your tea sitting around for too long, just pop it back in the microwave. Unless you’re British, in which case I’m told that is a sin. You’ll have to go back to step 4 and start all over again.

6. Pick up a job writing about hockey.

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Writing is writing, right? Even if it’s writing about grown men chasing a disk of vulcanized rubber around frozen water with knives strapped to their feet, and sometimes hitting each other in the face.

7. Carefully copy your outline into your Moleskine. (You’re a writer, of course you have a Moleskine.) If you don’t have an outline, now’s the time!

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Outlines provide us with structure, something we creative types could stand to have a little more of in our lives. Besides, they’re more guidelines, really. Suggestions. A jumping-off point, if you will. Jumping into what, well, that’s up to you.

8. Take a break and do wrist stretches to prevent carpal tunnel.

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The only thing worse than procrastinating writing your novel is being told you’re not allowed to write your novel. That’s inevitably when your best bursts of inspiration will strike, and not being able to give in to them will be agony.

9. Come up with a brand new shiny novel idea. Freewrite several pages about said idea in your Moleskine.

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If you get the creative juices flowing by writing about this new idea, you can totally transfer that momentum to your current project. Right?

10. Watch the cursor blink in your blank document. Bemoan your existence.

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You stared into the abyss too long, and now it’s staring back.

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