A Novel Idea

How to procrastinate productively (part two)

Posted on: July 12, 2010

Productive procrastination.

I grant you, it doesn’t have quite the fatuous flair of its oxymoronic cousin ‘Doing Nothing’. It does have some value, at least for me.

In today’s post I’m going to share three guilt-free activities to escape temporarily from your writing which actually make you a better writer.

I’m not going to cheat by including Reading as one of those activities. If you fancy yourself a writer and you rarely read, I’d hazard you’re not much of a writer.

I’m even going to exclude web browsing (we all know glam and gossip can be edifying in their own ways).

I’m not entirely productive when I do procrastinate. I discussed bad procrastination in my previous post:


I’m also not talking about getting up to make your fourth cup of tea or coffee which you then sip once after realising you cannot stomach another of those today. I classify that under mild leg and arm stretching, not procrastination.

Procrastination is a mental affliction preventing the physical form from coherent key tapping.

Time well spent? Picture courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/rctaylorphotography/3025951136/

If the bottom glue just isn’t working on a writing day, rather than chastise myself, I try to something vaguely useful to the overall goal.

Here are my favourites:

  1. Enter ’25 words or less’ competitions
    A lot of companies run competitions (sometimes with fabulous prizes on offer) designed to ‘engage’ the customer and increase their loyalty. As a break from serious writing, I like to challenge myself to pen pithy answers to questions like ‘Which Aerosmith song changed your life and why?’

    It gets my mind thinking along a different track (pardon the pun), and my prize haul to date includes a backstage meet & greet with a musician, a bottle of perfume and hundreds of dollars worth of books.

  2. Walk the dog
    Sadly I do not have a furry companion at the moment, but if I did, my little puppy would not have a chance to plump up. We’d be round the block, down at the park with the frisbee, sniffing the wonders of the local bakery. Actually it’s probably a good thing I don’t have a dog right now. The next best thing to walking with a mate is of course walking somewhere picturesque. How can you not be inspired to write after some lovely fresh air?
  3. Bookshop Crawl
    Like a pub crawl, the aim of a bookshop crawl is to soak up the atmosphere at one shop after another. You stop when either a) You are seized by the need to write and see your book on the shelves b) You’ve bought more books than you can read in the next year c) You’re starting to feel word sick.

    The Bookshop Crawl has the pleasant side effect that you can spy on customers and see what people pick up and take home.


So what are you doing when you should be writing?

Don’t ‘Do Nothing’. Engage in Productive Procrastination.

Maybe it’ll catch on? Maybe not.

Write well. Write often.


(C) Copyright of the author. 2010.

1 Response to "How to procrastinate productively (part two)"

Great suggestion about entering those competitions Violet. I’ll look into that for sure. I definitely agree with walking somewhere picturesque, that’s how I’ve gotten a lot of my inspiration so it really works. I haven’t got a furry animal either but they are great fun as well.

Comments are closed.

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  • Violet: Thanks Alannah :) Apologies for not replying sooner: I'm finally catching my breath and the year is almost over!
  • Alannah Murphy: I remember your first post, way back when I had my old Here Be Dragons blog, and I am glad you are still writing. We all find out, sooner or later, ho
  • Violet: Good to hear that Aaron. Good Luck with your work.
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