Wednesday Writing Spot – Writing Problems and Solutions, part one.

The Problem – Procrastination

This is a big one for me. I didn’t realise how big until I took a week off and went to Devon last week, where I had hired a cottage to write the beginning of my new novel.  I deliberately hired a cottage with no internet signal so I would not get side-tracked on Facebook, Twitter etc.  Incidentally, there was barely any phone signal either so I couldn’t phone anyone up to chat without going out into the adjoining field.

Here’s the view from the cottage.

The picture below is the room I worked in. Glorious isn’t it.

So – did this work? Did I do loads of writing?

Yes and no. I did do a lot of writing, but not quite as much as I planned.  (I had planned to write three chapters of my new novel as a minimum).  I actually came away with three chapters – but one was already mostly written – does that count? Hangs head in shame. No, not really, I know!

So what did I actually do?  Well, I found other ways to procrastinate. Here are the writing ways:

Writing ways of procrastination

(Be particularly wary of these – because you probably think you are still working)

  • I planned out my entire novel in bullet point form. (I don’t usually do this).
  • I got side-tracked finishing a short story – well when I say finished, I still haven’t quite finished it.
  • I did a lot of editing of the chapters I’d already written.

Non writing ways of procrastination

  • I talked to the owners of the cottage about writing, tee hee – why is talking about it so much easier than doing it? They were thrilled I was ‘writing’ on location and wanted me to mention it in my next book!
  • I went on lots of walks with my dog, Maggie.
  • I caught up on a lot of reading – I read a novel for an author friend and gave them my editing suggestions.
  • I watched DVDs.
  • I – um – went on a couple of interesting expeditions; I went to a chilli farm, for one thing. Excellent writing material (if I ever have time!).
  • I bought presents for friends.
  • Oh and there was cooking and messing about and sunbathing.

The Solution

  1. When you have time to write, set a timer and just start writing. (I’m going to do that in a minute – honestly).
  2. Do this at the start of the day before doing a single other thing.
  3. Arrange to read out what you have written to another writer.

Number 3 works the best. Do this first and then do the other two.  And you will write, I promise. You’ll have to – or you won’t have anything to read.

I am so glad my weekly writing classes begin again next week.  I teach writing classes. I set homework. Most of my students agree that the class – and knowing they’ll have to read something out in it – is what motivates and inspires them to get something done. It works for me too because I occasionally take in a manuscript I’m having problems with and my wonderful class help.

My classes are on Thursday evenings (writing fiction and non fiction) and Friday mornings (writing for the terrified) at Kinson Community Centre in Bournemouth – in case you are interested. They start on Thursday September 5th or Friday September 6th. Please do email me for term dates or further details. If Bournemouth is too far away from you, why not try and join a class near you.

Just as soon as I’ve finished this blog I’m going to get back to writing. Did I mention that blogging is a great procrastination device too? If you’d like any more advice on writing short stories, (I am quite good at them when I actually start!) please check out my two writing guides. How to Write and Sell Short Stories published by Accent Press and The Short Story Writers’ Toolshed published by

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7 Responses to Wednesday Writing Spot – Writing Problems and Solutions, part one.

  1. Yep, I know them all. Those “writing days” are the worst, because you just know you’ve got to produce and the inertia kicks in bigtime. I now just write when I can. Not so bad now because my writing is mostly editing, and bits of new writing. Dreading starting an actual complete new book. Haven’t done it in ages and just know procrastination will rise up like a demon and stymie me in my tracks at once.

  2. sue blackburn says:

    Oooh tidying my writing room is the best one, kidding myself I can’t possibly write in an untidy room. But then when it’s all lovely and tidy do I sit and write ……..

    No, because there are then emails to write and fabulous blogs to read, oh and magazines and novels – but then I tell myself I’m researching! Sigh

    What a comfort to know I am in good company though :o) xx

  3. Della Galton says:

    Ha ha – so I am not alone. Thank goodness. And now I appear to be on here again – answering you guys rather than actual writing – so much more fun 🙂

  4. Linda King says:

    Using a timer was the best advice I ever received – I’ve slipped a bit lately but I’m definitely going to start using one again. Reading it out to another writer… I like that – and I wouldn’t have thought of it. Food for thought1

  5. I don’t mind so much when I’m actually doing something other than writing, but do resent the time I spend at the computer kidding myself I’m working. Must stop doing that.

  6. Lin says:

    Haha, I could write a book about procrastination about writing… if I ever get around to it…

    I consider how much I like having written, rather than how much I like writing. And if all fails I remember Douglas Adams, who was notorious for procrastinating over his writing: “I love deadlines. I love the swooshing noise they make as they go by.” and “Writing is easy. You just stare at the paper until your ears bleed.”

    Stop surfing the net and get back to your writing!

  7. Della Galton says:

    Linda, I use a timer quite often – it acts like a metaphorical kick up the backside for me and works well.
    Patsy, yes, ditto!
    Lin, you made me laugh. And thank you for the Douglas Adams quote – it’s a long time since I heard that one 🙂

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