You don’t have to be a writer to master the art of procrastination. However, being a writer provides one with the opportunity to excel at this particular endeavor. Here are some of the best tricks of the procrastination trade:
1. Names, names everywhere and meanings galore!
You can slide down a long, long rabbit hole of name meanings, metaphors, etiology of names, ethnicities, and one site even has the soul meaning of the name! Who knew?
Many times, my characters appear to me fully formed. Some of these characters, like the character of Michael D’Angelo, have names that I try to change. For a variety of reasons, perhaps I don’t like the name, or I know someone with the name, or it is too close to another character’s name that I really like and now can’t use. Yet my character insists his name is Michael, and no other name will stick. I find myself constantly thinking of him as Michael D’Angelo or worse, writing whole chapters referring to him as such, even when I tried changing his name to Eric.
In order to fight the name-Gods, I spent hours on various baby name websites. Did you know that Eric means handsome? That would have been perfect---a little nod to the romantics out there. But my character wasn’t having it. He was Michael, which means, “Who is like God?” Meaning no one is like God, but he who may be close to God. AND he is of the angels! Finally, after many delightful hours of non-writing with a very good procrastination excuse, I had to accept the fact, that regardless of how unlikely a name it was, my romantic lead was Michael D’Angelo. And I grew to love him.
For each new character I get to spend a ridiculous amount of time researching baby-name websites. No wonder my newsfeed is clogged with ads for baby clothes and co-sleepers.
Anyone contemplating a name for their baby, feel free to email me, I can supply a dossier of metaphor and meaning for you.
2. The butcher, the baker, the candle stick maker.
Names aren’t the only way you can procrastinate work---you can also exhaustively research the profession of your characters. I didn’t know Carly was going to be a painter. She revealed this to me one day while I was out walking. I imagined her as a photojournalist. She did not agree. She allowed me to strap a camera around her neck but only as a means to an end for her painting. She was quite clear about it. Which meant all the PRE-WRITING-RESEARCH (which was not procrastination, but real work) I had done on photojournalism was out the window. So began the hours of research on color and paint medium. I sat for one whole afternoon and pored through art books I inherited from my grandmother.
After I had exhausted every book I could find and realized it was time to buckle down and start writing---I had the brilliant idea of turning the research into a field trip! An entire day of procrastinating!
I am lucky enough to know some amazing women who are talented, inspiring artists in their own right. Visiting Pat Tobin in her studio and seeing her evocative, beautiful paintings solidified the decision to allow Carly to be an artist.
Haha, I say “allow” as though I’m in charge.
Laura Carraro, a visual artist (and fellow writer) who creates entire stories from cut-paper collage, allowed me to muck about in her studio and create an actual painting.
Good thing Carly didn’t decide she needed to parachute from a plane because I’m terrified of heights.
3.Stick your head out of child pose and try new things.
I expected Carly to go to the gym and could easily have written many hilarious adventures that take place at a gym. In fact, I half-thought she would meet her man at the gym.
Carly however, refused to go to the gym. She let me know that she practiced Yoga AND the Yoga practice was related to the thread of her childhood memories. So now there was a whole other layer I needed to develop. Since I had never practiced Yoga (other than a few random and humiliating classes) I had to take a class. Imagine my surprise when I fell in love with it. All the snark in the blogosphere about yoga-pants moms now applied to me. AND I had to add it to my exercise regimen, which certainly aided the art of procrastination in a tremendous way.
Rebecca Chianese is an author living and working in New York. She is the author of two screenplays, “Daffodil Hill” and “Waltzing With My Father” which were accepted into the Hudson Valley Reading Series. Her plays, “The Session” and “That’s Life” were both produced off-broadway in NYC. Mercy is her first novel and this is her first blog space. So have Mercy on her!
Rebecca was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She lives with her husband and children in the Historical Hudson Valley. Her love of reading began with the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza and she has been writing as long as she was able to hold a pencil. Walking along the Hudson River is where most of her characters come to life and boss her around until she tells their stories.