The Perils of Procrastination

on July 27, 2018


I’m not sure how it got to be quite so long between opening the pages of my current manuscript, my work in progress (WIP), or writing on this, my much neglected blog. You see I adore the written word. I am an author-in-waiting who is beholden to books and the gifts they have given me. I am a voracious reader who devours novels almost as fast as I devour cups of tea. And I am also a master procrastinator.

Since returning to writing some years ago, I read in a totally different way. I still get swept along in the magical story contained within those crisp pages, the exquisite settings and the relatable characters, but I now also find myself analysing sentence structure, admiring characterisations, and wondering how the hell the author created such a cohesive work of beauty. I long to create such beauty.

Apparently I can write. I have been told that I can by several of my favourite authors, whose writing courses I’ve attended. I’ve even pitched the idea for my novel to a publisher from one of Australia’s major publishing houses and she said it sounded ‘intriguing’ and to email her when I had a polished first draft. Sounds encouraging, doesn’t it?

Yet herein lies the problem. Two years on from that pitch and I still don’t have a polished first draft. I don’t even have an unpolished first draft. What I have is a cluster of words (in its current incarnation that cluster equates to twenty-four thousand, four hundred & fifty-two to be precise) and an outline of my story.

I am a visual person and have laminated images of my characters that sit on my desk as I write. Some are random people picked off the internet (what was that I said about being a master procrastinator?) whom the moment I saw them I knew, they were my Lucy or my Clara. The hunky English actor Oliver Jackson-Cohen is my inspiration for Markus. I saw him a few years ago in the movie Faster and was mesmerised by an Ashtanga yoga scene he performed https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_gQbbAlNB0

Writing is hard and it has to have its perks…and watching that yoga scene can be classified as ‘research’, well that’s what I tell my husband anyway! But I digress. I know the story I want to write. I know who my characters are. I have a working title, The Forgotten Family. I have a fully formed visual of one pivotal scene which plays over and over in my head like a movie trailer. The scene even has its own soundtrack, Strange Birds by Birdy  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hxIGKNhW1Q (yeah I know, more procrastinating) and is set on the rooftop terrace of an old sandstone mansion, in waterfront Woolwich.

The song lyrics speak to Markus who has just received a Facebook message from his father and he takes out his frustration by kick-boxing a punching bag. I see that scene so clearly. Every…little…detail. It feels so visceral and so real. But getting it to translate onto the written page is proving harder than I imagined. And so I stop writing. Writing is hard.

I have the best intentions. Driving home from work I say to myself ‘when I get home, I’ll brew a cuppa and do some writing.’ And what do I do? I brew a cuppa and pick up a book, someone else’s book and get lost in the pages. As I read my inner voice says ‘you should be working on your own book not reading someone elses.’ But I am good at silencing that inner voice. ‘Reading is research, essential for good writing’ I say. It’s true. But it is also an excuse, another way to procrastinate.

A wise writer friend recently nailed why writers often procrastinate. She said, ‘I think perhaps I’m subconsciously stopping myself from writing because the story is so much better in my head than when I put it on the page, so by not committing it to writing, I haven’t ruined it.’ And there it is in a nutshell.

I am scared that when I actually write it, it won’t be good enough, that it won’t read on the page as well as it does in my head. While it’s tucked away in the recesses of my imagination my story is safe. But of course the whole point of writing books is to share our stories. If I never release it into the world I can’t fail, but I also can’t succeed.

And so here I sit typing. Writing. It started yesterday with a measly two hundred & sixteen words of dialogue on my WIP. Today I decided it was time to re-visit my blog in an effort to get the words flowing, somehow writing a blog post seemed so much easier than slipping within the pages of my novel. But I started writing this post at nine a.m. this morning and only now, some ten hours later, do I type the final words.

But it’s a start. And with a writing retreat looming in November with the fabulous Vanessa Carnevale (and a promise to her that I would turn up with sixty-thousand words), I need to get writing. Fast.

So wish me luck and if you have any tips to stop procrastination (yes Di, I know, GET OFF FACEBOOK!) please let me know in the comments.

Till next time,




10 responses to “The Perils of Procrastination

  1. Of course, get off Facebook….then come play on Twitter 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anna says:

    You will succeed!!! I look forward to reading your book or even an unpolished first draft. You are so very talented and you write so beautifully. X

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Georga says:

    Hi Michelle.

    From one procrastinator to another, best of luck with getting stuck in your writing:)
    Can you get your ideas out verbally or do you need to type them? I wonder if you could start voice recording some of your thoughts, ideas, and sentences as inspiration to type up afterwards? As some scenes seem very clear in your head could you tape yourself as though you were telling someone what is happening …..

    I tape musical ideas on my phone, if a melody or lyric pop into head when I’m out and about. Speaking your ideas out loud may help. I’ve taped my ideas walking on the beach, in a car park and various other places. Head out into nature with a notebook and pen and try writing away from your desk:)

    I once read a book on procrastination where they gave lots of info about how people procrastinate and tips on how to tackle this ‘tendency’. Maybe the next book you read could be one such book, it may spring you into action.

    G x

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love this piece, Shell. I so… get it! Now that you’ve started, all you need to do is make some writing a priority, even if it’s a commitment to write 30 minutes a day. It will grow if you make it a habit. That novel is BIG. The idea is overwhelming. It all seems to hard and too far away. But little bit by little bit, you’ll get that first draft down. Consider Vanessa’s retreat as an important deadline, a goal. Write towards it!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lisa Clifford says:

    Well Shell, I think you are amazing. Because writing is hard. Not only the discipline but also the actual process. Expressing emotions, describing scenes, building your character and making people believe in your character. It’s hard. But, oh, when you’re finished and you read it and go ‘that’s exactly what I wanted to say.’ Such satisfaction! All the best bella, Lisa Clifford

    Liked by 1 person

    • lolshelley says:

      Molto grazie Lisa.xx After a weekend away with writer friends, the words are flowing more regularly now. I had a kind of mind shift on the weekend and was suddenly able to let go of the words being ‘perfect’ or being in the right part of the novel and somehow found a way to tell my inner censor to back off!! That censor is still there but is keeping a safe distance.xx


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