Yes, it’s time for some more vaguely contradictory advice. So first a word on that. Here’s why this tip is not contradictory. No one technique or strategy works for every writer. They don’t even work for one writer all the time. There are times when the only way I can get any writing done is to cut off from all external stimuli, most especially the internet. Sometimes I can’t write if there’s music on. But other times I need music and I need the internet.
Sometimes my procrastination feeds my writing.
That’s right, sometimes procrastination is your friend.
Yes, I know I just told you to turn the internet off. Well, now I’m telling you to turn it back on again. Or to go clean the bathroom. Or crochet or knit. Shoot some hoops. Take a shower. Or do some other urgent-ish thing that is calling to you rather than writing. Yes, even if it involves hacking off zombie heads.
My biggest form of procrastination is IMing with friends. I have been known to spend 8 hours straight doing so. (Hello, Alaya!) I find five convos1 at the same time no problem.2 I can’t tell you how many times those conversations have given me ideas, solved plot problems, made me realise something about my writing I never realised before.
To be clear we mostly don’t talk about each other’s writing directly. What we do is talk about many other things including shows, books, movies we love (or hate) and what did (or didn’t) work about them. Ever since Diana Peterfreund first nudged me towards watching Avatar we’ve been talking about it. I think writing a convincing and likable Chosen One is incredibly hard. I tend to dislike fiction that centres around one. Yet Aang in Avatar is just about pitch perfect. Our Avatar conversations have sparked off a million and one ideas that have gone into various projects of mine.
So, yes, it’s procrastinating. But it’s also feeding into my work in awesomely productive ways. I think everything I experience feeds into my writing. Which is why I believe procrastination is necessary.
Sometimes you need to be alone with your work. But no one can create without stimulus from the outside world. The key is balancing the two.