Before we start, I’d like to take a moment to address my agent and editor, should they happen upon this blog post:
Hi, Jo and Kirsty. It’s great to see you here. I hope you’re both well. I grabbed a few spare minutes to write this blog post. Other than that all I do, really, is slam through my second draft with a gimlet focus and the speed of a charging rhino. I am neglecting my family and personal hygiene to achieve this, but IT’S MY VOCATION, for God’s sake! Why would I want to do anything else?
Honestly, J & K, you may as well pop off now and get on with your day. There’s nothing to see here. And it’s sunny outside, I’m told.
Off you go…
Right, now we’ve got rid of them, here’s the thing: I’m horribly and constantly distracted. I’m writing my second draft, with time’s winged chariot etc, and I’m perpetually diverted by all the other stuff which seems of absolutely crucial importance.
A cruel observer might call this procrastination. I complained to writer and thinking coach (yes!), Stephanie Butland that I was getting stuck because of all these distractions. With a tooth-gritting perceptiveness, she asked: ‘Do you get stuck because you’re distracted, or do you distract yourself in order not to write?’
My considered response was: ‘Shut up! Shut up! Not listening! Not listening!’ Because I am entirely free of hang-ups.
At least I know I’m not alone. Alan Bennett, famously, defluffs the tumble drier. Costa winner Andrew Miller, in his novel Casanova, puts a cracking monologue into the mouth of Dr Johnson which can only have come from personal experience (‘I sharpen the quill, I start to read some book I left open upon my desk the night before. I tell myself that I need only write a sentence or two, even a single word, but when I start I find the ink is too thick or too watery so I must stop again and make some more..’)
After reading Emma Darwin’s excellent blog post about procrastination (in which she contends that there are good evolutionary reasons to avoid hard work, but that – and I hope I’m not paraphrasing too loosely here – we should just bloody get on with it anyway), I thought I might list all the things which have distracted me from writing over the past week. Here’s the list:
All critical stuff, as I’m sure you’ll agree. I leave you with Johnny Kelly’s fabulous take on procrastination (though I’m a little put out that he’s chosen to include ‘colour co-ordinating your bookshelves’ – that really was essential). You may wish to add your own procrastination tactics below – confession is good for the soul.