More Distractions Friday
Tim Dowling has mused on the procrastination opportunities of a writer. * I could not have put it better myself – here is an extract.
‘Writing a novel must be one of the easiest things to avoid doing in the world – chances are no one has asked you to do it, and no one will care if you don’t.
As soon as you start, almost every other activity in the world seems preferable. Distractions come in every shape, but these are, to my mind, the top five.
Try to arrange things so that there are several flights of stairs between you and anything remotely worth eating. …once I am in the kitchen the prospect of going all the way back up again means that making several dozen profiteroles shaped like swans suddenly seems a better use of my time.
In many novels you will find an Acknowledgments page in which friends are thanked for the use of cottages, beach houses or flats in exotic locations…Most of us, however, will not have such options: we have to write even while we continue parenting, walking the dog and executing urgent DIY projects in a distracted and half-assed manner.
This is the biggest distraction faced by the modern novelist.
Everything Within Reach of Your Desk
When you don’t want to write, you will do anything to avoid it. If there is an old, broken cassette nearby, you will unscrew it, repair it with tape and wind it back up with a ball point pen. If there is a banjo to hand, you will teach yourself to play it, in both the three-fingered bluegrass and old-fashioned clawhammer styles.
The only way to maintain focus is to clear the immediate area of anything which you could be considered mildly interesting, or, failing that, cover everything in several layers of yellowing newspaper.
The Terrifying Enormity Of What You Are Trying To Do
Writing a novel is, in my experience, a bit like swimming across a huge, dark lake. Starting off is easy and finishing is both a relief and a triumph, but there’s a long stretch in the middle where you can’t see either shore and you’re not even sure you’re heading the right way.
This is the point where you may prefer banging your head against the desk all morning to writing a single sentence.
The best way to keep swimming is to remind yourself that it’s no good staying where you are because it’s 200 feet down, although I’m not sure the lake analogy really extends that far.
To be honest I’m finding it very difficult to concentrate and tune this banjo at the same time.’