Five procrastinations of writing (and how to strike them down)

Writers are natural born procrastinators. We all know that feeling, the one which comes just before you actually start to write: Let me have another cup of tea, another day, another book, another little salty chip and then I will start. When I began my journalist career more than a decade ago, I was sure I couldn’t write an article. It took me five years of wanting to write fiction, a Master’s degree, two failed novels and millions of procrastinating moments to finally do something that all blogs, all writers keep suggesting: write.

After a year of stalling, I started to write fiction and once I did, I couldn’t stop. In the last five years, I’ve written six books, four of which are published and two lie at various edit levels. The longest of this, my latest Cult of Chaos, touched 1,20,000 words at manuscript stage. Here I list down a few of these lovely time-sinks and how to get rid of them.


I tried yesterday, I couldn’t write a word. I have writer’s block.

No, you don’t. A writer’s block is a myth, created by star-struck media or lazy writers. There’s nothing like it out there. Yes, there would be some days when you stare at the screen, your hands spread over the keyboard and nothing sensible will come. When you know you have to delete every single word you’ve written. But it’s these ‘blocked’ days that will lead to a glorious day when your fingers are flying over the keys. The day you can’t write always leads to the day you do. Keep writing nonsense if you can’t make it sensible, but write. Start by putting one word after the other.

I can’t write in this noise
Have you seen a baby pop off into dreamland in the middle of a party? Become that. Let nothing physical—noises, voices, areas, homes, cafes or offices—take you away from your writing. Don’t think you can write only in certain conditions. You can write all the time, everywhere. All you need is discipline and focus. Try and write everywhere you go for a month. That’s all it takes to develop the habit.

I need a better grasp at language
I was convinced about this for the longest time (the time spend in thinking about writing and not writing itself). Then one day, when I voiced this to a friend of mine, she told me to consult a thesaurus or a dictionary. You are not writing grammar, you are writing stories. Concentrate on expression the story you’ve decided to tell, through the limited language you have in your grasp. Writing in a language, improves your skill in that language, your spelling, your grammar. You will see the difference yourself. Another way to improve in the language is to read other authors, see how they express things, how they use mere words to touch a core in you. Read and learn.

I want to, but just don’t have time to write
Do you take a shower everyday? Eat everyday? If writing the story in your head is not as essential to you as sleep and food is, you will never write. It’s like the retirement dream of living on a beach that all of us have. If you want to live on the beach, why not start now? Why wait till you get old and tired? So write. Now. Take out time. Even 20 minutes everyday should do. People complete novels in that time.

I need a special software to plot my book
Nope, you need nothing but yourself, a pen and little bits of papers. Or a laptop and a clean document screen. Everything else, the iPad, the app which costs $25 and helps you figure your plot and characters, internet, everything else is a waste of time and keeps you away from writing. Don’t manage the tools of writing, but write.

First posted as a guest blog on my friend Vidya’s website. You should check it out for funny, useful blogs.

Missed any of those niggles? Add them to the comment below and I’ll figure out how to slash them for you.

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