Uggghhh so it turns out writing a novel is, like, super freakin’ hard? And, like, you actually spend a massive proportion of your writing time, like, NOT writing? Right?
Well, sometimes that’s a good thing. Sometimes you need a wee bit of downtime and thinky time and non-writey time. But that doesn’t mean NOT writing your novel isn’t productive. Oho no. We’re all about Productive Procrastination (or pro-pro for short), and this blog series is all about how to secretly make progress on your book while seemingly doing faff all (you can read Part 1 of How Not To Write A Novel here).
So the next time your thumbs are a’twiddling and your clicky mouse finger is hovering over Facebook, check out the following pro-pro ideas to keep yourself working-not-working:
1. Write a letter to your protagonist, from your protagonist
You know those days where you’re all like ‘oh man if only I’d actually listened to my English teacher and did an Eng Lit course instead of studying Sea-Smoothed Rocks of East Asia at degree level then I’d be a Bailey’s Prize winning author by now and live in a big house and my hair wouldn’t look like a badly pruned tree and my car would start.’?
Make your protag do that. Imagine your character is smack bam in the middle of their story and is therefore being troubled by many many conflict-riddled things but has not yet resolved them.
Then write a letter from them, to their former self, lamenting all the things they wish they’d done or not done.
This one’s a great trick for working out a) how much your protag changes from the beginning to the middle to the end of your story, and b) what your protag needs to do to get to the finish line.
2. Go and read an actual real life novel
Any novel. A new novel. An classic novel. A novel you’ve read a gazillion times before. A novel someone recommended to you three years ago and has been sitting on your shelf ever since. A novel you’re not sure if you’re gonna like. A novel you KNOW you’re gonna love. A novel that’s in a similar vein to your WIP. A novel that’s totally different to your chosen genre. JUST READ A BOOK OKAY?
Sometimes some fresh creative input is what you need to trigger some fresh creative output. It really doesn’t matter what kind of novel it is. Ideas spring from everywhere.
Sarah recommends: Orange Laughter by Leone Ross
Jo recommends: The Coward’s Tale by Vanessa Gebbie
3. Weaponise your fear of failure
Imagine yourself as an old fart, explaining to your grandchildren (or some random feral kids you’ve met on the street) all about how you once started a novel but then life and stuff got in the way and you procrastinated and de-prioritised it and, well, the sad thing is, you never actually finished it…
So NOW imagine telling them all about how you hoiked up your socks and you persevered and you DIDN’T procrastinate (or at least not too much) and you wrote and you wrote and you wrote and rode that novel train all the way to the end of your goddamn draft in righteous triumph. MUCH BETTER, RIGHT? That’s the one we wanna hear.
Enough pro-pro. Go and write. Go on. Well? GO!