even the slackest couch potato likes to feel productive

So. I was on my way to the movies yesterday, talking to my sister, Erin (hands free but my mind was on the road so I can’t vouch for the conversation), when she told me I was the best procrastinator she knew. I said, why, thank you, and turned my car around to come home and get into it.

My sons were back at school, my husband was at work and the house was empty except for two sleeping cats. Conditions were perfect; silence, space and no Stephen King Junior hogging my computer. I could make a dent in all the little second book promises I’ve made to myself.

But I had to settle into it, so I:

– read a blog post about busting writer’s block

– watched Modern Family and ate chips and chocolate

– ran a bath

– had a bath in which I wrote an essay in my head about procrastination

– got dressed

– considered vacuuming/mopping

– thought better of it

– lay on my bed for a bit and worried about book Number Two

When I wrote my first novel, Unzipped, I turned up everyday just to see what would happen. I was finding the story. Sometimes it felt like the story was finding me. It was the best. Tap, tap, tap. A thousand words a day minimum. Type, type, type. I loved it.

I was functioning.


Making art.

Feeling useful.

Back then I scoffed at writer’s block.

Writer’s what? Rubbish. Get off your arse and do something.

I used to advocate a two hundred word sentence if you were ‘stuck’ and it worked for me every time. It’s been ages since I considered a long, long sentence. Time stretches like a thick wad of wet chewing gum when you’re procrastinating.

Apparently there are two kinds of writers. Discoverers, like me, who write to see what will happen, no real plan, just working away at an idea. Stephen King likens it to digging out a fossil. You dig closer and closer remove dirt (adjectives, adverbs, recaps, that guy in chapter four who shows up for no reason) you chip away until you are left with the fossil (answer). Then there are the other kind of writers. Plotters. People who know, before they type, what goes where, when it goes there, who’s going to respond to it, and what will happen next. They know their story from the beginning.

Plotting. I like it for other people. Knowing what happens next makes me feel tied.

My second novel is undiscoverable. I can’t switch on my computer and see what happens to the main character because I already know. Short of a knock to the head I can’t make the story new to me. That means I can’t write it.

Why? This should be easy. I’ve done all the work in my head.

Establish character. Done. Give character a problem. Done. Make it hurt. It’s hurting. While the character is on the floor kick her in the the guts. Done. Give the character a solution. Done. Get to the end point. Done.

I know what to write but don’t want to.

I know what to write but will my publisher like it?

I know what to write but can someone else do it?

Oh yeah, I have writer’s block.

I’m a believer. Writer’s block is my new religion. I’m going to church twice a week and hanging around outside the confessional for a glimpse of vestment.

The story is about Post Natal Depression. Maybe, ten years to the week, since I was diagnosed, I’m still too close to it. But there isn’t much out there in terms of PND novels, it feels like I have a niche and I do have things to say.

I have a meeting with my editor today. I’ve been trying to hold off showing her how desperate I am. But I’ve got the worst poker face in the world and today she’ll see. That’s okay. I’m writing a negative brief of what I’m up to. I’m going to unsell my idea to her, she’s gonna kick me out of her office, I’ll save the notion for another time – maybe no other time – and something new will develop.

Or I’ll stay pinned to my blog. I don’t mind, it’s nice here.


dreaming of clear sentences, no doubt

4 thoughts on “even the slackest couch potato likes to feel productive

  1. Hi bike girl know how you feel. I’m a lapsed artist. I haven’t ‘arted’ at all for over a year. Just the odd token efforts and not many of those. Take a sketch book and pencils when I go out. Never use them. We live in hope the lightning will strike again. Keep on hanging in there and lightning will strike again. ….. xxxoooxxx Alex

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