Wow, okay, so I sat here for ages trying to think of a topic. I say ‘sat’. I might have gone flying for a bit. And saved the world. And invented a couple of things. Oh, and I made a few modifications to the suit, and then Pepper insisted that I do the washing up for once, because apparently it’s not the same when a robot does it. But I was thinking really hard about this one. Honest.
It’s mainly because my alter-ego’s brain is totally fried right now (she released a poetry collection while procrastinating on revising for exams, I mean, that’s some pretty extreme procrastination that puts me to shame), but also because I’m going through one of those patches where I’m so deep into the writing process that I’ve lost the ability to be objective about it, y’know?
There comes a point when you’re halfway through a novel and if someone asks you a single thing about writing you’ll only be able to explain it via that novel. They’ll ask me about characterisation, I’ll start talking about my protagonist, ignoring everything else I’ve ever read or written. So I can’t talk to you guys about writing without just rambling about characters you don’t know and plot points you won’t understand. No offence or anything, but you’re not smart enough to grasp all that without all the backstory.
So. I figured I’d do something a little different and talk about ways to take a break from writing. We’ve talked before on the blog about how that’s a good thing to do, but not really gone into details. Without further ado: five recommended forms of procrastination that will inspire you to write, therefore actually solving problems and making them way too productive to be procrastination so you should probably spend a few hours on Tumblr too.
1) Watch a film
But not just any film.* The best kind of film to watch when you’re in a writing slump is something that inspires you. Maybe it’s a great example of the genre you’re writing. You could be tackling a story about a teenager who gains powers and needs to fight enemies while trying to maintain some semblance of a normal life, so you might want to watch The Amazing Spider-Man. (Kid’s cute. Smart, too. Shame he’s not eligible to be in the Avengers.)
Or you could watch a film about writing. Like poetry and classic literature and having your emotions destroyed unexpectedly in a film that otherwise seemed pretty ‘safe’? Try Dead Poets Society. You’ll want to read or write poems afterwards, but you’ll also want to curl up with a blanket and stuff your face with chocolate.
2) Watch TV
This one’s dangerous. Unlike a film, if you get yourself hooked on a new TV show, you might never write again. So use it as a reward system. An episode per chapter you complete, plot hole you resolve, 2000 words you write, that kind of thing. But TV can teach you so much about writing and looking at it from a different perspective.
For a really intelligently written show with great characters and storylines, why not check out Hannibal? Though not if you’re squeamish. Sometimes it’s kinda gross. Pepper made me put a sign on the door so she knows not to come in when I’m watching it.
3) Read a book
Again, like films, try and make this something that inspires you. It’s usually pretty easy to find something in the same genre, but if you’re stuck, try going to Amazon, finding the category your book would be in, and looking at the bestsellers. Or, choose a book that inspires you to write regardless of genre. I recommend The Dream Life of Sukhanov: the protagonist, an artist who gave up painting and became an art critic, has such a longing to create, and his desire to embrace his creative sense thrums through as the undercurrent of the entire book until you get to the end and think, “Okay, that’s it, I’m gonna write a masterpiece.” (Even though you know that nothing will ever match up to Olga Grushin’s prose.)
4) Make playlists
More simple than just ‘listen to music’, pick out a character you’re struggling with or a plot point that’s difficult or a scene that just won’t gel, and make a playlist for it. All the music that character would listen to as well as all the songs that describe them. Find the characters who are Green Day characters and the characters better suited to Queen. Find the characters whose playlists make you cry. Make playlists for relationships. Put every sad song you ever listened to in the rain after a bad day and fit them in somewhere. Put happy songs in.
They’ll inspire you to keep going. They’re also a brilliant way to procrastinate and you can spend hours on them. Highly recommended. Play them loudly while Pepper talks to you about responsibility and timekeeping.
5) Delve into … THE PAST
Choose a period of history and read about it. Preferably one you never studied at school and which hasn’t been the central part of a TV show, film or book you love. Read about it until you feel like those people were your actual friends, get engrossed in, reenact it, go and join a living history community. Become the past.
Or you could just take ideas from things that really happened, like George RR Martin basing the Red Wedding on badly behaving Scottish nobles and stuff. But living history is awesome too. Whatever. Do not reenact the events that inspired the Red Wedding. That would be a bad plan.
Bonus) Go outside
Hahahahah. We know you’re not going to do that.
So, now that you know how to procrastinate productively on writing your novel, go forth and do so! But don’t tell Pepper I told you to, or I’ll never hear the last of it.
-- Iron Man
*Although I hear there’s a good one out at the moment. Something about a very cold soldier. Or something. I don’t know, Steve mentioned it in passing a couple of weeks back.