Every writer has them. Yes, they do. Every writer spends a whole load of time moaning about how there isn’t enough time to write and then, when faced with all the time and opportunity in the world, when all the chores and emails have been cleared and every possible obligation dispatched, finds spurious reasons not to write.
These are mine.
- Investigating that noise. What is that noise? Where’s it coming from? Somewhere in the house? Upstairs? Under the stairs? Ah no, it’s coming from outside. Front or back? If I stick my head out of the box room window and crane my neck at an excruciating angle I can just about catch sight of a fluttering hedge five gardens away and the flash of a tool. What tool? For what purpose is it being wielded? I had better stay and monitor the situation until the noise goes away.
- Practising the piano. I haven’t had a piano lesson in thirty-five years but it’s a nice thing to be able to do and I don’t want to lose it. I’ve been practising the same piano pieces for thirty-five years too, but, if I keep on practising them, one day I’ll be able to play them almost not badly.
- Conducting research on the world wide web. Say no more.
- Trying to recover that brilliant, pithy sentence I wrote a few months ago which was really,really good, but which I decided I didn’t need at the time, but which I’ve now decided I do need, at this very moment in the story, but can’t remember exactly word for word. I could compose a new one, but I know it just won’t be as good. Got to find the original. Which chapter was it from? Which version of which chapter in which folder on which computer, or memory stick, or external hard drive?
- Teasing out the paper ribbons that have escaped out of the sides of the shredder and feeding them back through the centre. I know I was supposed to have cleared all my chores but this one was overlooked and can’t wait.
- Going to a cafe. Lots of writers write in cafes. It’s good to be out amongst the hubbub of people. To break free from the stifling, pressurised environment of the writer’s study. It’s good to drink coffee and eat Panini’s and giant jammy dodgers. It’s good to gently push your laptop to one side and observe what’s going on around you. It’s good to run out of battery and just allow your mind to freewheel, even though you’ve no notebook or pen to hand to jot down your thoughts so you don’t forget them. It’s good to come to the conclusion that it really is quite impossible to concentrate in here and your writing time has expired anyway, along with your parking ticket.
- Thinking about which agent I’m going to send my book to once it’s finished.
- Answering the phone. Obviously I mustn’t do this. Obviously. It could lead to all sorts of distractions, upsets and complications. Don’t. Really, Claudia, just don’t.
- Drinking alcohol. It’s going to help me think more clearly. It’s going to relax me and open up my subconscious mind. Mmm, that’s nice. I feel so relaxed now. Kind of sleepy. Actually, you know what? This wine needs a crappy film to go with it. A novel-in-progress just isn’t the right accompaniment for this particular variety of grape.
- Elsie wanting to play. The inspiration behind this blog, which is really just one big excuse to publish the photo below. My favourite distraction of all.