Silly things I do to waste writing time

My husband has dubbed me a chief procrastinator. What he doesn’t know is that sometimes I only seem to be putting off something. Sometimes I’m working out some aspect of the job before I start it. Sometimes I dread it so much, I need to sidle into it so I’ve begun before I realize I’m doing it.

And yes, sometimes, I’m just putting it off. For weeks, I’ve been saying I need to get down to serious work on my next novel, and yet here I am saying it again. I do have legitimate Real Life distractions. And I’m still working out some plot points in the back of my mind, so maybe not all is lost. Still, in part, I’m just wasting time. I find myself making lists. Most of these are to-do lists, which I know, even as I make some of them, I may never look at again.

But I’m capable of making even more useless lists. Consider the following one. I use a stats program that records the location of visitors to this blog. A ridiculous number of countries worldwide have shown up there. Closer to home, I’ve had visitors from every one of The United States of America. By cross-matching by time, I can track where those who leave comments live. Naturally, the info led to a list showing which state has interacted most with me.

  1. California (36 distinct visitors left comments)
  2. Illinois and Texas (tied at 13)
  3. Oregon (12)
  4. Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania (tied at 11)

Other “research” shows I’ve had visitors from the following states, but none of them left a comment: Alabama, District of Columbia, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Vermont. Are readers from those states just less chatty?

“What about other English speaking countries?” I ask myself. Turns out, visitors from all over Canada have left comments—except those who came from Newfoundland and Saskatchewan. From the UK, I’ve exchanged comments with visitors from numerous cities in England, a couple in Wales, but not a one in Ireland or Scotland.

Does any of this knowledge matter a whit? Of course, not! Will I tailor my posts to appeal more to those in Montana, Iowa, Newfoundland, or Saskatchewan? Nope. I’m just wasting time.

Now, about those games on Facebook …

Your turn: Do you ever waste writing time? If so, how?

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32 thoughts on “Silly things I do to waste writing time

  1. I’m right there with you poking around looking to see where my blog readers are. I also have a tendency to blog hop, scroll through lots of tweets, and browse for new books to read or see what others are reading on Goodreads. I’m a procrastinator myself, which is kind of what I’m doing right now. I’m off to check a couple other blog posts I’ve missed recently. lol

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    1. Sometimes blog hopping is a time waster for me too, Heather, but not always. Since I don’t know many writers in the flesh, bloggers are my social circle. But to be honest, the Internet in any form has become a huge time suck lately. 😦

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      1. Yeah, I don’t know any writers in person either, only via the internet. The problem for me is that I can only write when the little man is sleeping and lately he throws monumental fits if I even get on the computer while he’s awake. Therefore, I have to do everything while he’s asleep, writing, editing, reading, and blogging. I end up having to choose which is more important at the moment. I used to blog hop while he was awake in my lap, now he pushes my hands away from the computer to replace them with his own. 🙂

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      2. The internet has been my downfall, lately, too. Even when my sole purpose is to get on for research, I inevitably find myself back on Twitter…

        Very interesting reader stats, Linda. I don’t have such a program, but I think it might be dangerous if I did…

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        1. I know how that goes, Amanda. I tell myself I will not check Twitter or Facebook, but ten minutes later, there I am! And yes, if you have any OCD tendencies, you do not want to have any help watching stats. 😕

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  2. Blogging, reading blogs and writing emails to writer-friends all suck up time that should be going toward my novel. I’m running interviews regularly, and it’s great fun, but I spend a lot of time corresponding with current and future subjects, writing intros, scheduling post dates, etc. Yes, that’s all writing-related. But I have so little free time and so much to do on my novel. I need to get back in the habit of using the 15-minute chunks to work on a scene, or do a little research, rather than waiting for a full hour or two.

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      1. I don’t write well in 15-minute chunks either! And that’s the excuse I give myself for doing other things in those bits of time. Oh well. I’m learning a lot from the author interviews–and I often ask other writers how they schedule their time! Perhaps one day I’ll try some of their methods…

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  3. When I pause my writing for research, things get crazy. I’ll look up the year a certain song was popular to make sure I’m using the right song for the timeline. Next thing you know I’m watching You Tube videos. Same with TV programs. I need to make sure a show was even aired in the year I claim it was and next thing you know I’m on Amazon buying the complete Timelife set of I Love Lucy.

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    1. You always make me laugh, Tricia. But I certainly know what you mean. Sometimes I can’t even remember how I got from that site to this one. You never know when the bits of trivia you pick up on these internet wanderings will come in handy though. 😉

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  4. Texas. 🙂 I procrastinate in that I have not lately been working on my MS. I’ve been doing what you do, mulling over in my mind what to do when I get there. I can’t think of any activity that I’d call truly a waste of time. How’s that for rationalization? My days are busy with priorities I must honor. If and when I get back to my MS, I have a plan. But if I want to get back to it, I must move it up higher in my list of priorities. I’m not ready to do this yet. This could be a case of classic procrastination, and I’m in denial. Blessings…

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    1. It sounds like you’re where I am, Carol. Am I truly just not ready to write this book? Or am I using that as an excuse to procrastinate? Probably the main reason I hesitate is because I can’t write a true first draft. I want it to be 85% done right the first time. So I have to have it all figured out before I write. Ha! I just realized that sounds like I do outline … in my head instead of on “paper.” I guess I’m not as much a “pantser” as I thought. I feel a blog post coming on. 😉

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  5. Hi, now you have a commenting visitor from a country whose first language isn’t English as well. 🙂
    I like what you say about having started before actually working on something. Sometimes I write, but very often I get ideas or outline stories in my head when I am nowhere near my computer (or notepad).
    Procrastination, I think, is a very common thing for any artist. There can be so many reasons. I used to not write because other things simply seemed more important. Sometimes they were, sometimes I was just afraid to admit that writing was actually very important.

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    1. Hello, M. Thank you for taking the time to comment. I think you’re right about artists procrastinating; I suppose it’s a necessary part of the creation process. Or am I just looking for an excuse? 😉

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      1. I think that depends on the kind of procrastination. I think it’s necessary to go for a walk in the rain or research a lot or write an interview with a main character. We need to work away from work. We also need breaks, and sometimes one thing becomes the other.

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        1. True, M. I think I might be trying to force the issue here. Although the story idea came to me over a year ago, I’ve been so busy with other writing (and publishing), I wonder if my mental “pre-writing” of this story has not finished. Maybe I really do need to clean the house. 🙂

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  6. I do the same thing with my writing time. Find other things that I “should’ do before I get writing. Sometimes those little things will inspire me (like cleaning off my desk) but mostly they are the things that keep me fingers from typing. Thanks for the great post, it has inspired me to get my butt in gear and get writing, not procrastinating. 🙂

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  7. Reading your blog!!! I am not saying that reading it is a waste of time, but it does keep me from getting down to writing my own novel the way that I should!

    Lynn

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  8. Sounds like you’re doing plenty of “research and consideration”. Besides, “research and consideration” sounds better than procrastination, and lots better than wasting time. 🙂

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  9. I’ve also wasted time studying stats…Probably my biggest time waster. I haven’t even looked at my stats for TWO DAYS now! It’s a record. Of course, I haven’t posted anything lately, and I don’t have much mail regarding my blog, so the real reason I haven’t checked is because it would be too depressing…:(

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    1. That’s the other side of the coin, isn’t it? Right now, I’m trying to break my habit of constantly checking my book sales. Seeing no blog visitors or no sales can really dampen your spirits.

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  10. What don’t I do to procrastinate writing? To write I want LOADS of uninterrupted time before I begin. And if that’s not written in stone I clean parts of the house, re-organize my office, make jewelry, bake something I don’t need to eat, weed the yard, read other peoples books, and theres that rabbit hole we call the web. Yeh, that’s a time killer. 🙂

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    1. That’s what I want too, Jessica, but my current circumstances don’t allow that any longer. It’s been an adjustment, but I think I’m getting there. Yes, I fall down that rabbit hole wayyyyy too often. 🙂

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