Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Before You Write...

You'd rather be writing, but first you have to...

10. Reach into the freezer and get something out for dinner. WARNING: You may discover things in your freezer older than your youngest child. This has happened to me. This brings up all sorts of other issues that may further delay your writing.

9. Organize your desk - including all the drawers. This could take hours, if you're lucky. But don't think of it as luck, think of it as being thorough.

8. Vacuum the cat. Yes, scratches and a certain amount of blood loss with probably be involved. However, you can use the pain and suffering to enrich the detail in your current work.

7. Do more research. You're not wasting time, you're getting your details correct. Keep repeating this - it helps alleviate the guilt.

6. Have a snack. Go to the kitchen to discover you are out of snacky foods. Go to the grocery store. Don't forget you're out of milk. And cheese. And toilet paper.

5. Reread your previous few paragraphs to remind yourself where you are in the plot. Try to read them with no judgment. Try. Try harder. Now step away from the delete button.

4. Have a staring contest with your pet. NOTE: With a dog, you have a fair chance of winning. With a cat you have less chance. With a fish, you have no chance. No pet? Stare at a picture of one in a magazine. You're not wasting time, you're sharpening your concentration.

3. Close your eyes and imagine the blockbuster movie that will be made based on your current manuscript. Picture a scene and hear the dialogue. WARNING: This exercise may lead to actual writing. Approach with caution.

2. Think about what your characters were like in high school as a means of exploring their histories. Think about what you were like in high school. Think about what your friends were like in high school. Do you remember some of the names? Hello, Facebook?

1. To pick up dialogue tips, watch a movie or television episode written by one of your favorite writers. WARNING: This may cause severe depression and self-loathing. More snacks may be necessary.


  1. I want to know where you've hidden the cameras in my house :)

  2. Guilty of all but those involving pets. I prefer staring at things other than animals if I'm wasting time.
    So you know, I've blocked my webcam so you can't watch me any more.
    You are so clever. I love it!
    Giggles and Guns

  3. NO! Don't tell me that! I was just about to start writing but now I have to...


  4. Maribeth; Thanks so much for letting me know you liked it.

    Clarissa; My job is complete.

  5. This reminds me of when I was a kid and my mom sent me in to clean up my room. I'd start by emptying out my dresser drawers and folding and arranging everything in neat little sections. Took all day.

  6. Patricia; I did the same thing. The trouble really began when I started rearranging my bookcase.

  7. oy - you got me to a tee. Today I washed dishes and fusted about with this and that AND all I was doing was READING my book. I got lots done all the same so I try not to be too weird on myself. After all that's why we write isn't it? So our houses get clean.

  8. Elspeth - I am so sorry that I didn't get a chance to read this post until now. I was on the road all day and have only just settled in. I laughed all the way through, and trust me, I desperately needed to laugh today. Thank you. I think the ones most like me are the research vortex and the imagine-your-characters vortex. I get wa-a-ay too easily sucked into them...

  9. Why does this all sound so very familiar to me?! Yes, you do have those hidden cameras on all of us!

  10. Jan; How on earth did you do dishes and read at the same time? This would be a useful skill for me.

    Margot; I'm happy I made you laugh and I'm sorry about your stressful day. The research vortex can be bottomless - I know this from sad experience.

    Elizabeth; I can't imagine, with all you accomplish, that you're ever this unfocused. However, my camera is there. In your house. Watching.

  11. Luv it! Ye gods, made me realize I'm either avoiding writing or getting so sucked into it none of the above--and believe me my cat is missing the attention--gets done. Nothing much else either including eating and sleeping. Still got to learn to ignore twitter though. Wonder how that got to be more important than substanance. :s

  12. Natasha; Thanks so much for dropping by and taking the time to leave a comment! Twitter can be so useful - and such a time waster. Wait. That's useful too. I'm bad.

  13. As always, clever, clever, clever. If things get really dicey, you can also fold laundry or clean the bathroom. Guaranteed to get the writing going.

  14. Terry; As always, thank you, thank you, thank you. The laundry and cleaning the bathroom are my last desperate resorts.

    Mason; Thanks. I'm pleased people enjoy them.

  15. *giggles* My cat likes being vacuumed. That's an activity that can suck up HOURS (provided the dog doesn't get involved--he tries to bite the vacuum hose)

    Thank you for the laugh, Elspeth!

  16. Very cute! One note - never delete. Cut and paste into a document in case you later have regrets.

    Now you've done it. I need to check the bathrooms for toilet paper.

    Straight From Hel

  17. I love this list as I can fully see myself doing almost every one of these when I finally have time to write.


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