Good Friday, gentlepersons.
I’m ending this working week with my top 5 excuses for not writing. Perversely, they include, well, work. But that’s not the point. Because I have so many writing projects I intended to have finished by now, and my success rate is only marginally better than that of an Irishman at a speed dating event for taller-than-average Dutch people.
And although not one of these excuses is allowable, I attempt to defend each of them because if I didn’t, I would actually have to write something useful.
1. The Day Job
I spend 97.985% of my working day at the moment buried in spreadsheets which contain thousands of teeny tiny moving parts. My eyes are like Cookie Monster’s by the time 5pm lopes around. I can barely focus on TV property shows at night, let alone a pile of text.
2. The Blog
My creative brain only appears to work in short bursts right now. So if I stop by the blog for a spell, any resulting posts, tidying, or fumigating send my brain into a roped corner of belligerence, where it tells me “Look it, Tara. That’s all you’re getting for today. Now feck off and let me watch Grand Designs.”
Ha, ha! You thought I meant porn, didn’t you, you dirty yoke, you!
Many, many writers will tell you that as soon as you sit down to write anything, you will immediately be able to think of nothing other than unwashed cups, mottled carpets, centuries of dust and a burning desire to call an exterminator to check under the floorboards. I become exceedingly houseproud when a few hours’ writing loom. The rest of the time, I remind myself of the extraordinarily pungent electronic engineering student I once shared a house with in college, who didn’t change his bedsheets for 11 months.
(Hey! I only said I reminded myself. Not that I let things get that bad. I just like to have an extreme line of filth against which to compare my relatively clean dustiness and less – well – biological grime. He actually moved house during that 11 months, by the way, merely transferring the manky sheets from the old bed to the new one in the process. Urghhh.)
4. The News
It generally goes like this:
[When I hadn’t intended to write]
My, that headline is dreadfully boring. No-one would ever want to read an article about that.
[When I absolutely need to write]
Gosh. Here’s an article which explains in detail the difference between regional European election data today, and15 years ago, when I wasn’t here to vote. I must read it in full immediately. And the comments.
5. Goldfish Brain
Let’s try a stream-of-consciousness technique on this one.
I should write. I’ll check my e-mail first. Ah no sure I only did that 5 minutes ago. But that was on the PC, not the phone. I should update my phone. I’ll check Facebook. But that always makes me feel a bit dirty. Like watching a something with a Kardashian in it. Feck. I forgot about that comment. I should’ve replied 2 days ago. I’ll do it now. But I don’t know what to say. Later so. I have to pick up bin bags later. I keep forgetting. Wow, that girl has duck feet. They’re actually spilling over the sides of her shoes. Even though she’s a tiny person. I wonder does she know. Obviously not in those shoes. I should work that into a character some time. Oh yes. I should write.
Know what I mean?
What keeps you from writing? I know the internet is creaking under the weight of 4,309 daily articles from writers about what makes them procrastinate – so much so that it’s gone straight past irony into passé pop culture – but tell me anyway. After all, if you weren’t procrastinating over something, you wouldn’t be here, would ya now?
I’m only here as I thought I might find a new excuse for not writing…hmmmm…..Oh look cobwebs,byeeeeeeeeeeeee 🙂
You’d better get stuck into those cobwebs, though, Trish – I mean, we’ve got to be serious, here. You know if you let them go even if only for a few hours, they multiply by 17 to the power of supermutant and cocoon you in your sleep???
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrggghh…feck off.. :p
I did feck off, but I had to come back to tell you you missed a bit….
I don’t go straight past irony to avoid writing. In fact, I go straight to the irony board. When I have writing to do, my family have knife sharp creases in their underwear.
Score!! Did you know that punning genius immediately earns you 2.6 hours of satisfaction and a productivity medal? And nary a pair of underpants in sight 🙂
Would that were the case. I deal with Underpants, but they just magically reappear in the laundry bag. I need the One Ring to take them all. Now there’s a thought; Mordor covered in dirty laundry. That wd be horrific. Sorry, having a ramble. But then I have writing to do……
Do you know when I read that, I had a sudden urge to be at a cocktail party: when asked what I do for a living, I would reply “I deal with Underpants.” The reaction to that statement would be worthy of all the dirty laundry in Mordor.
Please feel free to ramble here anytime. Your procrastination is my entertainment, talented Commenter…
Why, thank you ma’am. Just call me Miss Dubois. It’s not my name. But hey. Actually I’d like to say (at a cp) I work in Mordor. Marketing division. Or possibly, I’m Sauron’s PA.
Now that raises a far more serious question. What does Sauron’s PA say when s/he answers the phone?
Hmmm. You have reached the office of the Dark Lord. He’s not available to take your call right now. But I’m his assistant, Tracy. Can I take a message?
Hi, Tracy. Nancy from Mordor Library here. Could you tell the Dark Lord that we have his copy of Barbara Cartland’s A Ring Of Promise in stock? He can pick it up on Friday when he’s in to collect his pension. Thanks Tracy.
Thank you. Your call has been noted. A Nazgul has been sent.
Tara – – Love your blog! Sorry I didn’t enter your contest, however, I’ve got a question. Where is the picture at the top of your site taken? It reminds me of perhaps Ireland or Scotland, though I’ve never been to either one. It just suggests pictures I’ve seen of them.
Thanks, James! That pic was indeed taken in Ireland. Looking from hills behind Clonbur down onto Lough Corrib in north Co. Galway. I was up there for a week’s writing once, and I can tell you, I did a whole lot of walking and picture taking and talking to cows that week. Writing: not so much 😉
Tara – – Does writing a reply to a blog question count as an Asinine Excuse for Not Writing? If so, what about Writing About Writing a Reply? Now THAT’s Asinine!
In this order: Yes, Yes, and Oh, yes. In fact, I think there’s a certificate for that around here somewhere I can send on to you!
Reblogged this on MARSocial Author Business Enhancement Interviews.
Let this reblog be a cautionary tale of naughty writers lest others follow the same dark path. That’s all 😉
I love the word feck. Except for me it comes with Arse! Girls! Drink! and on occasions, “That would be an ecumenical matter.” Sorry I’ve gone off on one. Yes, I’m here because I’m too blitzed after a day’s editing to look at my book any more, so I’m frolicking on the internet, talking bollocks and reading blogs instead.
Aha. But you just admitted to having achieved in the editing stakes, all day, which means your browsing time was in fact EARNED, rather than squandered. This makes you a guilt-free commenter, and your addition of a compliment for the post means that you have earned a further 4 hours ofsquanderation, which can be spent on this blog at will and without any pending guilt whatsoever! Now look what happened!!
Mwha ha haahrgh! Ah but the editing only happened because I’d frittered away the first two hours on the net! Phnark.Thank you though. I’ll take those four hours. Have four from me for your kindness.
D’you know, with all this online bartering of hypothetical time, we could conceivably reach a point where NOTHING EVER GETS DONE AGAIN. We should meet for coffee when that happens.
The coffee that would g on for ever…
Well, seeing as everybody else is procrastinating… Yes, I have at one time and usually on many times used one or all of the above to avoid writing. Thank you for the checklist – I shall make good use of it in future, no doubt. Speaking of cobwebs…
I sincerely hope you’re not referring to the ones in my brain. They’re staying…
Other reasons for not writing:
1)Working on a PhD thesis
A PhD thesis is like a vampire. At first glance, it looks both attractive and frightening. Then, you start to work on it, and it begins to suck your energy, your words, your ideas, until your brain turns into a lemon that has been too much pressurised. Some may say: “But, anyway, a PhD thesis is something you write, isn’t it? So how can it prevent you to actually write?” Yes, but for the one who wants to be a writer, writing a PhD thesis and writing fiction/poetry are two wholly different things. The latter makes you happy, even if you are writing with your own blood and the deepest feelings of your mind, while the first makes you… depressed. And as long as you are doing your PhD research and your thesis writing, you are unable to write anything else. Novel projects? They are in stand-by. Anyway, you can’t possibly say to your PhD supervisor that you have fallen behind with chapter 3 of part 1 of your thesis because you were writing chapter 1 of your novel. Short stories? You are too tired to think of that and there is this bloody chapter you have to send to your supervisor before the end of the week. And then… you’ll have to work on the next chapter.
(N.B.: I got done with my PhD after 4 years and it was such a relief, though I felt completely empty.)
2) Reading the book you have bought/borrowed at the library (and you only have 3 weeks to do so, and one week has already passed)/been given by a friend (maybe it’s your birthday gift)
And the fastest you’ll have read that book, the fastest you’ll be able to buy/borrow another one. There are so many books you would like to read. However there is always a moment when you think: “Oh! It’s such a good writer. I wish I could write like that. I wish I get my own fiction published. I should write the next chapter of my novel/finish writing my short story for that anthology. But first… let’s finish reading that book.”
Anyway inspiration is so volatile and always comes in situations when you can’t possibly write. For instance: when you do the washing-up, when you clean the house, when you are in the subway/the bus/the car, or when you are already into your bed, the light turned off and it’s too late to stand up again (except if you want to become insomniac). But it is rarely there when you sit down in front of your computer to write. So, as it is not there at the moment, trying to write would be pointless. And reading someone else’s book is so much easier.
3) Watching your favourite TV series
This is a variant of the 2nd point.
4) The cat looks a bit fat these days. And when he’s not sleeping, he only thinks of eating, and so will probably become fatter. Maybe you should play a bit with him.
5) Going out with a friend, because having a social life is extremely important, and you need to see the world out there to find some inspiration. (If, hopefully, inspiration decides to show up.)
6) Going to cinema
Variant of points 2 and 3. May also be a variant of point 5, if you go with a friend.
7) Doing some shopping
• Because your fridge is empty.
• Because you need new clothes (even if you already have a lot of clothes).
• Because you would like to try this new perfume you have seen on a TV ad.
• Because the next volume of your favourite manga/book series may be available now. At least you can check. (Also works with: the last book of your favourite author, the last CD of your favourite singer, the DVD of that wonderful movie you watched last month.)
• Checking your emails, and answering them
• Checking your Twitter timeline
• Tweet (to show that you are still alive)
9) Cooking a delicious cake (may include Internet, if you need to search a good recipe to try first)
10) Looking for a job, i.e. spending hours reading job ads, and then writing CVs and cover letters, and trying and not becoming completely depressed when you receive negative answers.
And indeed no. 11) Making lists! Which I do too, for shame! But yes. There are 4,398 bad excuses for not writing. And thinking of them is one of them 😉
Reblogged this on and commented:
Tara wrote this little rant a while ago but it speaks universally to all of us writers – I’ve even written an article on The Benefits of Procrastination for goodness sake! Take a moment and have a good chuckle at this one – she tells it like it is 🙂
There are benefits to procrastination??? Why did nobody tell me this?? All this time…
I probably should be writing right now – but that whole procrastination thing is awfully seductive sometimes. It is a like a big old shady tree on a hot summer day that whispers to you – “Come on over here and sit down under this shade and just rest a while and maybe I’ll drop a few ticks on you while you are resting in that patch of poison oak and maybe if you’re lucky you might catch Lyme Disease and then you’ll really have a reason to just lie around and not do anything.
Either that or I might just fall on you three or four times before you even get the chance to write down the word “timber”.
I never even thought of Lyme Disease. That’s an EXCELLENT one. Although it might be nicer to cite one of those diseases with no outward symptoms whatsoever, except that you’re, you know, kind of a bit tired all the time [yawn]
Reblogged this on YOURS IN STORYTELLING… and commented:
I probably ought to be writing right now – so instead of writing up a brand new blog entry why don’t I just point you at Tara Sparling’s informative blog.
I have got to agree that the whole procrastination thing is awfully seductive sometimes. It is a like a big old shady tree on a hot summer day that whispers to you – “Come on over here and sit down under this shade and just rest a while and maybe I’ll drop a few ticks on you while you are resting in that patch of poison oak and maybe if you’re lucky you might catch Lyme Disease and then you’ll really have a reason to just lie around and not do anything.
Either that or I might just fall on you three or four times before you even get the chance to write down the word “timber”.