I confess. I’ve been avoiding it. Returning to the section of my novel which I put aside a couple of years ago and to which I must return if I am going to finish the book.
Why has this taken so long?
Well, various things got in the way.
These included: publicising my first novel The Devil Dancers (after nine years of research and writing, I couldn’t just launch it and walk away); writing a book of short stories and publicising that (admittedly, I didn’t have to write that one, but it just happened); illness; the loss of a close family member and all that that entails.
Distractions have come thick and fast, each demanding attention and, in all honesty, I could not have avoided any of them.
Fortunately, it didn’t stop me writing. I didn’t abandon the second novel altogether, but took the wise advice of another writer who said that when life gets tricky, try to write sections rather than one, long continuous narrative.
Brilliant! It really worked. I concentrated on specific characters and wrote scenes from their lives which I could slot into the novel and I’ve got a lot of material.
But there’s still that section that I wrote several years ago, the core of the novel which I now know I am going to have to re-write. It’s going to involve a lot of work and, oh dear, I really don’t want to tackle it.
The trouble is, I’ve discovered that I have a great talent for procrastination. Here are the symptoms:
1) The sun is shining, I need to: go for a walk/do the washing/weed the garden
2) My husband/ cat/mother needs me. If I don’t pay them attention, I will be failing as a wife, pet-owner, daughter
3) I need to phone a long-lost friend (guaranteed to last 1 hour)
4) The oven needs cleaning
5) There’s a funny smell under the sink
6) I need to check the post. Better check the freebie newspapers, brochures, leaflets etc. before I chuck anything away – just in case!
7) Disaster! I’ve run out of milk/cat-food/chocolate. A trip to the shops is urgently required
8) I’m sitting at my desk but: my chair is uncomfortable – I need to change it/find a cushion; I need a glass of water or, even better, coffee and a biscuit
9) I’ve switched the computer on but first: I’m going to read my emails (there are two that need replies right now); catch up on social media (must maintain my author profile!)
10) Goodness, it’s lunch-time! I really can’t work on an empty stomach
I’m delighted to say that, after compiling my list of weaknesses, I finally tackled the piece of work that I had been dreading for so long.
It seems that the cure for procrastination is to teach yourself to spot the signs and, however much they tug at your conscience, learn to ignore them. It takes as much discipline not to do certain things as it does to tackle others. It’s just a matter of setting your goal and sticking to it – however bad the smell under the sink.
And, if anyone spots me slipping from the straight and narrow, please, just remind me to read this!