It's important that we, the established authors in the crime fiction world (can you feel the sarcasm dripping off your screen?) pass on what we have learned to those who are still climbing up the mountain. I believe there is a responsibility to help those coming up behind you, if for no other reason than that they will one day come visit you in the Old Writers Home and feed you pudding (chocolate, please).
So in the spirit of public service and altruism, I'd like to give the loyal visitors of this blog a special behind-the-scenes view, the good information, on what is without question the most important skill any writer can possess in the course of the average working day.
Please keep in mind while reading these that I am, at this moment, writing two novels simultaneously and re-reading a third that I wrote a few years ago to update it (much more on that in the coming weeks, not to worry). So what you are about to read is especially relevant. I give it to you free of charge, because I appreciate your support for DEAD GUY and for some of my books.
This is unquestionably the area of writing that I have worked hardest at and spent the most time improving since I began, probably at the age of eight, putting pen to paper for something other than a school assignment. It is the most useful, practical information I can think to pass on, and I believe it will make a tremendous difference in your writing life if applied properly.
One giant caveat: A neighbor around the corner spends his entire weekend playing a bongo drum outdoors for all to hear. So my head might hurt a little. But on to the essence of the writer's work:
The 10 Best Ways to Procrastinate While "Writing"
- I highly recommend Twitter. It can get you involved in the most ridiculous subjects on the planet and make them seem important. Hours can be frittered away without half trying.
- Become the fan of a sports team. The best in this area are baseball (my personal favorite) and basketball, because they have very long seasons and schedule multiple games per week. After a while, the whole thing begins to seem so important that you would definitely skip writing an Edgar Award winner because you need to see a game with wild card implications.
- Eating is always good. This has the added benefit of leading to weight gain, which leads (in some people, I'm told) to exercise, which takes up a dandy amount of time and doesn't even feel like procrastination because you don't enjoy it.
- Take up a musical instrument. I play acoustic 12-string guitar because I can stop at any given moment in the day and work on my "technique" on a whim. The fact that I've been playing since the age of 13 and still haven't gotten very good is no deterrent--there's always the chance I'll improve. I might even start taking lessons, which would eat up yet more potential writing time.
- Start playing interactive games on a phone or tablet. This can become a responsibility because you're playing against other people who would be (in your mind) upset with you if you didn't respond to their most recent move in a timely fashion. I play word games, which has the added advantage of keeping me humble anytime I start to think I'm good with the language.
- Read someone else's crime novel. I don't indulge in this one too often because I hate feeling inferior, but it's terrific if someone else walks into the room. You can tell them you're "keeping up with the trends" when in fact you're just reading for fun.
- Have children. You'd be amazed at the time you can spend with them, accomplishing absolutely nothing.
- Find reasons to leave the house. I take time every day the temperature is over 60 degrees to get an iced coffee (decaf) from Dunkin Donuts. This, to be honest, doesn't waste a great deal of time because I live in New Jersey, where it has been legislated that there must be a Dunkin Donuts on every block, but I go to the far one because I've convinced myself they get my order right more often.
- Read a newspaper. There are many benefits to this idea: You become better informed, you help save a dying medium that still delivers information better than any other, and you can do a daily crossword puzzle. Depending on which paper you read, there might be comic strips. Downside: You begin to care about things and realize the world is going to Hell in a handbasket, which apparently is worse than going to Hell in a Hyundai Elantra.
- Take a nap. This recharges your physical and creative batteries, eats up as much time as you allow, and feels good. It also helps because if you employ all 10 of these techniques, you'll be up very late tonight writing what you should have written during the day.
- Bonus method: Post on a blog.