No, Really, I'm Doing Something Constructive

Disclaimer: The following post in no way reflects the opinions of anyone connected to the League of Reluctant Adults, its heirs, employees, relatives, or dry cleaners. None of us, in fact, have any idea who this Jennifer Rardin bimbo is. Can we vote her off the island yet?

Humans, I've come to believe, are master procrastinators. None more so than writers. Because nobody is standing over us with the Glowing Sword of Thesaurus, threatening to spear, pierce, stab, spike, and skewer us if we don't hunker down and put some damn words on the screen. I suspect even some of our League members have, from time to time, struggled to fend off the Procrastinator Monster, who skips into the office bearing Ding Dongs and 24-hour Internet access, knowing full well we have the willpower of shipwrecked sailors.

Sometimes (like now) when I'm getting ready to begin a new book (damn, they're long!) I find myself deviously avoiding face-time with ye olde outline. This might be because I've always despised outlines, never having completely understood where to put the capital "A" versus the lowercase "a," not to mention the various numbers, which my high school English teacher insisted had to be symmetrical.

"If you can come up with two explanations for section A, Jennifer, you must also devise two explanations for section B."

"What if I can only find one argument to support section B, Mrs. Tortureme?"


"Okay, then. What if a large dragon came and bit off your head tonight? Would my paper still be due on Friday?"

But I digress. Or do I? Ummm . . . anyway. What do I do to avoid doing the work I should be doing? Here's a sample:

1) Make useless lists which can later be printed, recycled into paper airplanes, and raced across the living room.

2) Spend all day on Facebook trying to think up bizarre statuses (stati? staten?), taking ridiculous quizzes, and playing with my Fluff friend, Feerce, who I am training to go back in time to snap off the head of Mrs. Tortureme.

3) Clean. Yup, I am this desperate. Laundry. Dishes. Dusting. I've even been known to wash windows to avoid the laptop.

4) Watch reruns of Hogan's Heroes. Is this not the best show ever made (besides the Beverly Hillbillies, I mean?) Classic!

5) Make noodles. This can take an entire afternoon if you time it right.

6) Visit my mom. Same as above. Plus she pays for the food. Sweet!

7) Read a book and justify it as market research.

8) Go shopping. Eventually I'll be doing a talk. Or signing some books. Or something requiring decent clothes. (I tell myself this to avoid the guilt. It works.)

9) Decide I'll never write comfortably again without that white cardigan that I haven't seen in three years. Thus will commence a house wide hunt that will range from the attic to the basement. Eventually I will realize I'm wearing the cardigan.

10) Spend two hours planning a trip to the location about which I'm writing only to find it will cost me ten thousand dollars just for plane tickets and hotel fees. Scrap the whole idea and start planning a vacation instead.

How about youse guys? What're your top procrastination picks? Hope they're doozies. Lately it's been getting harder to put myself off, so I could use some new material!


Zita said…
One of my favourites is "out of sight, out of mind." If I can't see it, I can hardly be expected to remember that I need to do something about it. I am very inventive about finding places to put things away where I'll be sure to remember them...not! LOL
Gareth said…
Errmm, I've got some good ones.
1) Check all pets, are they limping? Yes Im sure that cat isn't walking right, better check that theyre fine, oh whilst Im at it, how are the claws do they need trimming, oh and better check for flea dirt whilst I'm at it. Swiftly followed by the "Oh my god, Ive not seen x for hours, I hope he hasn't got out better check his favourite sleeping places.

2) I've got so many idea's better get them all written down so I don't forget any beauties even if they won't have anything to do with the book Im trying to write.

3) Is anyone asking me for an interview? Better get that done, after all positive press will sell whats already out so I can concentrate on getting the writing done later.

4) I wonder where so and so is? Same as the pet but you spend most of the day looking up people online that you haven't seen for years just to check that they've seen your work in the bookshops. (Hah that will teach them.)

5) Is this idea genuine? Im sure I read it in someone elses book, better do some research now where is the blasted thing. (For me somewhere between boxes 0-20 or hidden beneath my unorganised shelving that stretches upwards of 10 feet from floor to ceiling. All day can be spent looking for that book only to find that you find another 10 that you were meaning to read but shelved as something you'll get round to eventually and they look damn good.) Also takes you back to research.

6) Have a counted my list up correctly. Hmmm best check those numbers again.

7) If a writer writes x amount of words in one day and has y amount to achieve by the end of day Z how many words is that required if I take a number of days off. Yep the old maths problem returns.

Or even better if your working with another author:
If writer a writes at x number of words a day (number achieved by calculating the amount of corrections required vs amount kept after editing) and writer b writes at Y words a day, how long before the two meet in the middle?

7) Best see what the readers think of this idea? Hmm they like it, but will it work? Oh wait hang on theyve suggested that, Oh I like that, its damn sneaky, but will it work with what I have planned already. Quick to the stationaires, must get idea cards to get them scribbled on so I can then shuffle them up and deal them like a hand of cards to check it all works. (Yet more hours of fun as you don't like the original deal so you cheat as if its patients.

Hope this helps the procrastination Jenn.
Nicole Peeler said…
The sad thing is, writing fiction IS my procrastination. It's either that or write academic articles, or grade papers, or whatever.
-Kelly Meding said…
7) Read a book and justify it as market research.

This is definitely one of mine. Used it just yesterday, as a matter of fact.

What else...

1. Reorganize my bookshelves. I'll get it into my head that the writing books need to be on the top shelf now, next to the graphic novels, and all non-fic needs to be rearranged by topic, not by height. Or something. But it's time consuming.

2. Baking. Cookies, muffins, brownies, sweet potato biscuits, cakes, you name it. If it's bad for me, I'll bake it.

3. Playing with the cat. All I have to do is smile at her and she starts purring. How I can then resist petting her a while?

4. Watching TV on DVD. I've bought the dang collections. I need to justify the purchase by watching the shows. Yes?

5. Researching new projects to avoid writing/editing current ones. Bad writer!
Qwill said…
I don't procrastinate when it comes to work. But if I have to do laundry or any housework, I turn into a major procrastinator. I rearrange my books, update Readerware, look for more press releases related to my work, leave the house and work at the local coffee house, and finally pretend that the laundry will do itself.
Hagelrat said…
t'interweb, the cats (always happy to distract), my husband (demands attention as much as the cats), food (umm, yeah, how I keep my comfortable shape), more coffee. lol, I am queen of procrastination!
JD said…
I like the market research justification. I usually say that by reading books, I'm making sure that I'm not writing something that has already been written (and yet I know my ideas aren't exactly original - werewolves? In England? Heh, like we haven't heard that before!)

Other forms of procrastination are fact finding missions (like the day I tried to come up with a scientific explaination for vampirism and lycanthropy and may have managed to convince myself), scrounging the interwebz for a picture that looks just like my protagonist, and sewing. Yes, sewing. I pick up a needle and thread and make medieval costumes. That adds a whole new level to the procrastination because if you want to make it right (as in, just like they would have 450 years ago) then there's research to be done like artwork to study, books to read, dress diaries to peruse...

And all that has to be done around my full-time work commitments.

(Reading back on my comment, I now understand why it takes me so long to write anything. Hmmm.)
Anonymous said…
Sadly, THIS is my procrastination. I visit writer blogs and websites. I use Slimbrowser, so with one click all of my favorites come up for me to preuse. Oh yeah, I think I'll just check another Group after this one. Bwhahahaha
Jennifer Rardin said…
Nice one, Zita. And laptops are so easily hidden!

Wow, Gareth, you've got this figured out! Except we have no cats. And the rabbit is pretty self sufficient. Luckily the guys in my family never tire of the pampering. So your ideas could maybe transfer.

Okay, Nicole, if those were my choices, my face would be buried in a novel right now. (In fact, I'm about to go work on a short story. If I could just figure out a creative way to kill something that's not alive. Sigh.)

Yay, Kelly! Can you say season three of Supernatural? Yeah, baby!

Wow, Qwill, we would be the perfect team! Even now I'm getting the urge to clean my cabinets! (Because, as mentioned earlier, I have a short story to finish. Stupid golems.)

Mmmm, food is always an excellent choice, hagelrat, and, alas, my downfall. When I can no longer run two miles a day I predict I will balloon to four hundred pounds and then explode in a rain of pretzels and movie butter popcorn.

I like the sewing angle, JD. Beyond mending seams and reattaching the odd button, I haven't done that in years. Which is how long it takes me to finish any project now that I'm writing full time. (Example: I began a lap quilt for my son as his 8th grade graduation present. Finished it just before the end of his sophomore year.)

Go tom-gallier!! We love the way you put crap off!

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