I’ve been tagged by CNUT:
“List the top five ways you distract yourself when you should be writing and then procrastinate some more by sending it to all those other writers who should really procrastinate more often.”
Top five, that’s quite difficult. All five probably involve the Internet in some fashion. It really is the world’s best tool for not actually accomplishing anything. Most days I can procrastinate non-stop without having to leave my office. Today, on the other hand, I successfully avoided doing any work by driving to Brighton and letting a stranger pull a tooth out of my face whilst being so heavily sedated I have no memory of the event.
It’s a very strange thing when you can’t remember a portion of the day which involves drills, pliers and your face; but I went from an injection in my hand to someone poking me in the ear and telling me to go home. I lost a tooth AND half an hour of my life. It just doesn’t seem fair somehow. Mandy, on the other hand, thought my post-drug confusion was hilarious and has been making fun of me all day.
Meanwhile, back at the point; my top five methods of procrastination:
- Responding to emails. The trick here is to make sure everything you write ends with a question, that way the person receiving the email feels obliged to respond, meaning you have to reply again and before you know it, it’s lunch time. I get a couple of emails a week from random strangers asking for advice (Why me? Seriously, I give slightly less useful advice than inanimate objects) and they always apologise for taking up my time. Apologies are nice, but completely unnecessary. I might have had to do some work if they hadn’t emailed.
- Internet forums. There are a few forums I check on a minutely basis, just in case I’ve missed a really interesting thread I have no intention of replying to. Occasionally I do chip in, but generally I just lurk and laugh to myself at the inanity of it all. My particular favourite is watching people with no experience argue continuously about how to format a specific element of a script. It’s great, you get pages of people quoting various gurus who also have zero experience of actually writing and selling scripts. I’m not saying these people have nothing useful to teach, but most of the minor quibbly points of format just don’t matter. No one really cares, as long as the finished project looks roughly like a screenplay; but people spend more time arguing about what it said in the last book they read than actually writing.
- Reading blogs. I read all the ones on my blogroll, but I also branch off from there to read the ones other people link to. This really can go on all day. I waste even more time composing eloquent replies to almost everything and then deleting them because they make me sound like a tosser. Or, you know, more of a tosser than usual. Occasionally I find a useful nugget of information which shines new light on a particular method of working and dramatically improves my skill as a writer. Mostly it’s just a mildly voyeuristic way of wasting an hour or so.
- Watching crap TV. After all that time in front of the monitor I need a break, so I head downstairs for a cup of tea, a biscuit or a bit of cake and half and hour or so in front of the old goggle box. Normally that will mean an hour of Stargate, Scrubs, The A-Team, Futurama or The Simpsons; but I’m in the process of rekindling my love affair with TV so I’m trying to record stuff at night I actually want to watch and then watch that instead. I used to love TV and watch every new series with gleeful anticipation. A few years back I somehow lost that love. There are years worth of worthy shows I’ve never seen and since I want to do more TV work, it’s about time I got back into it. So, technically, you could argue that’s not procrastination – it’s research. Yeah, right.
- Checking my stats. Jesus, this one’s pathetic; but I find my self irresistiblydrawn to that little graph which tells me how many people aren’t reading my blog or checking out my website. It’s fascinating and I probably check it dozens of times a day. I’m not proud of this behaviour, but there you go. Most of the hits on my blog come from people searching for “Do they really have sex in sex scenes?” Which seems like a remarkably stupid question. Today, someone found this blog by searching for “Best script writer ever” which, presumably, is some kind of mistake on Google’s behalf.
And there you go. I’ve got a vague feeling I’ve done this meme before and therefore so will have everyone else; but it’s possible the teeth drugs haven’t worn off yet and I’m just imagining it. In which case, I’ll tag Jason, Lucy and Dom.