Thursday, 1 September 2011

I'm prevaricating again

An author prevaricating recently
I know I've written about this before, but it's important. If there is one thing authors like to do, it's prevaricate. I've never yet met an author who didn't admit to the fact that the moment they sat down to write, they felt a strong urge to do something else. Anything else. Even the dishwasher or the hoovering. Or hoovering the dishwasher.

Some authors have taken this to a fine art. Douglas Adams famously had to be forced to write by locking him in a hotel room until he came up with the goods. But pretty well all of us do it.

The silly thing is that once you get going, it's hard to stop. Once you are writing, you want to keep at it. I know this. It should mean that I want to get in there and start writing right now. But I don't. (Okay, I am writing this, but anything other than the book counts as prevarication.)

At the moment I'm at the worst possible point in the cycle. I'm just about to take the plunge into a new book. I'm looking at a word count of about 500 words (with chapter headings and a few outline contents) and I have to turn that into 80,000 words. It's daunting. Where to start? But I know that my old friend prevarication will be back every day as I get to the point when I've checked the bank account, done the emails, got up to date on Google reader and done pretty well anything else I can think of to prevent myself writing a book.

So here we go. I'm going in. Wish me luck. Hang on, though. I think the dishwasher needs emptying. I'll just get that done first...

4 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for posting this, Brian. A problem shared is a problem halved. I'm more or less at the same phase of writing as you are (maybe slightly further along - this week's working title 'The Beowulf Effect: Fossils, Evolution and the Human Condition') - just a few thousand words in. But the synopis was almost 20,000 words long so I have a detailed script from which to work. I love it when I'm At It ('In The Zone', I call it), but ... oh ... it's the getting started that's so hard. I have to imagine a dalek hovering near going 'Prevaricate! Pre-va-ri-cate! You Will Be Prevaricated!' Or be with iPad on train and no internettery distractions, such as playing Scrabble on the net with complete strangers, which is really an intellectual version of cottaging.

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  2. Brian
    Well said..unfortunately prevarication isn't solely a skill that authors have; accountants have it in spades as too do football managers judging by the transfer activity on the last day of the window yesterday.

    I've developed the p- index; which goes along the lines that the tidier the house the greater the avoidance that has taken place and hence the greater the stress levels that have built up associated with non completion of the essential money-making tasks with which they were associated....

    resolution brings the rewards and a supreme relaxation that's hard to describe.

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  3. "Prevaricating" just doesn't seem to be the right word for the context. I would have chosen "Procrastinating" as more fitting the situation.

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  4. You are probably right - the downside of blog posts is they tend to be written quickly and the best word for the job is not always chosen.

    However, to be fair, the OED does give as one of the (admittedly secondary) definitions of prevarication: 'stalling or playing for time by means of evasion or indecisiveness; procrastination, hesitation', so I don't think it's a ridiculous word to have used.

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