Thursday 6 February 2014

Procrastination Station by Bryony Pearce

Here’s the thing about being a writer.  I love to write.  I would rather write than almost anything else.  And yet … sometimes it’s impossible to sit down at the computer.  Sometimes I can sit down, and just cannot open the document I have been working on.

Sometimes I arrive at Procrastination Station and cannot get off. 

Procrastination Station is a place that most writers I know are very familiar with.  I think that part of the problem is how we have trained our brains.  We are simply not made to FOCUS.  As writers I think we are (case in point, I literally just stopped mid-sentence to go and see what my son’s pet hamster, Bear, was doing) made to observe and query.  Our minds pick up on every little thing, examine it in case it might be of interest in a present or future story and squirrel it away, much like Bear whose little cheeks are now bulging with hamster muesli.  We spot things that others might not.  I certainly know that no-one else in my house spots the dust or sees that the hoovering or dishes need doing.  But it isn’t just housework that stops me from opening my precious documents.  Here are some other stops on the way to procrastination station:

  •  Housework.  The fairies aren’t going to do it, even though the rest of the household seems to believe that they will.  Including the grown man.
  • Administration.  It has to be done.  Right now.  If not the pile will just keep on growing.
  • Checking emails.  Well someone really interesting might have contacted you.  You might have another book deal.  You just NEVER KNOW.
  • Checking Facebook.  Something funny or interesting might have happened that desperately needs your input. 
  • Twitter (see above).
  • Food.  Yes, you could eat a quick bowl of cereal, but why not make a decent protein laden meal?  Eggs, toast, tomatoes, cup of tea.  You’ll be better prepared to spend a few hours writing.  What do you mean that just took 45 minutes?
  • Checking the news.  What if another world war or something started and you didn’t know, because you didn’t check the news?
  • Jobs you didn’t know you needed to do, but that suddenly become important for no reason.  Or in other words – Housework creep. Hemming those old trousers, clearing out your son’s wardrobe, tidying your daughter’s bookcase …   
  • Shopping.  The household needs to eat after all.  And your son just grew out of his school trousers.
  • Getting comfy.  Surprisingly time consuming.  Finding the warm rug, switching on the heating, finding the glasses, making another cup of tea, tidying the desk, finding the foot rest (a child was using it as a ladder), adjusting the chair, adjusting the angle of the screen and so on.  Oh its lunch time. 
  • Candy Crush and Jelly Splash.  Devilishly addictive.  Am on levels 197 and 90 respectively.  It’s a real problem.
Writers are easily distracted, we daydream; we are built to procrastinate, after all that comment on Facebook might lead to another brilliant story idea.  We are also timid creatures.  The conductor boarding at Procrastination Station is Doubt.  What if everything I’m writing is rubbish?  What if my other idea would have been a more commercial novel?  What if someone else has had the same idea, but is doing it better?  And so on.  This all stops us opening our files.

But when I do open that file, when I’ve sighed and forced myself to start work.  When I’ve cracked my knuckles and buckled down well, two minutes in I’m lost.  You won’t be able to rouse me until the characters I’m writing demand a break.  For hours I’m elsewhere.  I won’t see the house, let alone the housework.  I won’t hear the door or the phone.  I won’t open Twitter or Facebook.  I don’t even know they exist.

Once a writer is writing, they are WRITING.  It’s just picking up the metaphorical pen that can sometimes be hard. 

Which reminds me, tomorrow I will be procrastinating some more.  It is National Library Day, so guess where you will find me.

Come and join me.  There’s literally nothing better to do!


  1. Thank you for this, Bryony! Today is the day that my train leaves the station!