15 Simple Tips for Procrastination

Procrastination is a fine art. How should I avoid my writing, you ask? Here are some simple tips.

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  1. Clean the house. You know it needs doing, right? What better time to start than when that blank page is staring you in the face?
  2. Straighten your desk. How can you work on a cluttered surface?
  3. Wash clothes. Everybody needs clean clothes.
  4. Wash your hair. And the rest of you, too. Who likes a smelly author?
  5. Walk the dog. They expect it, after all.
  6. Feed the cat. They also expect it.
  7. Wax the car. You need a shiny automobile for those book tours you’ll be doing.
  8. Hop online. It’s only for a few minutes. How much time can Facebook eat up, anyway?
  9. Fix lunch. Everybody needs to eat.
  10. Go buy groceries. See Number 9.
  11. Fix that leak in the sink. Who can write with that annoying noise?
  12. Wallpaper the bedroom. Or paint it. You need inspiration, and those old walls just aren’t doing it.
  13. Sharpen all your pencils. How can you write with a dull pencil?
  14. Knit an afghan. Or crochet one. Your knees might get chilly while you’re writing.
  15. Clean the bathroom. Wait, this is getting entirely too ridiculous!

Quit wasting time and get back to that manuscript!

Catch ‘Em Quick

Writing a catchy first paragraph is a must for every writer, but especially for fiction writers. If the reader isn’t hooked in the first paragraph, sometimes the first two or three if they’re generous, they’re not going to be interested in finishing the story.

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“The first sentence can’t be written until the final sentence is written.”
—Joyce Carol Oates, April 1986

The first thing you need to keep in mind is this quote from Joyce Carol Oates. She’s right: in order to craft a really fascinating first sentence or paragraph, you must have your ending already crafted. All this means, of course, is that you finish your first draft before you wrack your brain trying to find that perfect  opening scene. Get the story down, then worry about creating your “hook.”

A good first paragraph starts in the midst of the action. Don’t begin your story with the character waking up and brushing his teeth, then eating breakfast and going to work. Start with the body falling past the window in his office. The reader will wait a bit to learn more about your protagonist if you give them a good enough story.

Once you’ve completed your first draft, find the scene that starts your action, and lead with that scene. That’s your hook.

Revising 1-2-3

Revision can be tough. Sometimes it’s hard to take a good, clear look at what you’ve written.

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Here are some good tips to get you started on the revision process:

  1. Start at the beginning – Editing is easier when you follow your story the same way your readers will. Starting on page one will not only help you to catch typos, but allow you to check for plot holes, continuity and characterization.
  2. Highlight all passive verbs. Look for is, are, was, were and has/have been. If the sentence can be rewritten into active voice, do so. If not, consider eliminating the sentence entirely. You do need passive voice occasionally, but keep it to the bare minimum.
  3. Get rid of the cliches. HERE’S a great list by Writer’s Digest of the most commonly used cliches. Do a find-and-replace search to be sure none of these have crept into your story.

Once you get into Edit Mode, you’ll find that it flows right along.