I was supposed to be working on some fresh material for my new novel but I just had to blog about Catherine Tate's working process that incorporates procrastination just because my readers in South Africa are unlikely to be getting the How to Write insert (except of course, this being the digital age, you can read the whole article in the online Guardian).
So guys, we procrastinators are in stellar company.
'Writing" always means "not writing" to me, because I will do anything to put it off.
I think this is mainly because writing anything down and then handing it over to a third party — especially in comedy — is such an exposing act that you naturally want to delay the process.
Also, the control required to get ideas out of my head and into some tangible form that I can present to others doesn't come easily to me. I will quite simply do anything other than sit down in front of a blank screen and begin.
But that is not the point of this article. I will quickly come to the point so that I can get on with procrastinating over my writing.
At the end of the piece, Catherine Tate offers up three bits of advice and I thought, hey, it would be so easy to apply these to writing for children (which I suspect is a lot like writing comedy, but I haven't read the rest of the Comedy insert yet so I can't tell you).
Catherine Tate: Trust yourself. You have to start with what you think is funny before you can have the confidence to write to anyone else's brief.Btw: NFTS means Notes from the Slushpile. I got tired typing.
NFTS: Start with your own idea and then work on it from there. Don't go copying what seems to be hot at the moment (Chick Lit and Vampires according to BrubakerFord, in my previous post), don't do a comic diary just because Diary of a Wimpy Kid has been so successful (although I am sorely tempted), be yourself.
Catherine Tate: Give a gag three chances to work, if after three (separate) attempts they're still not laughing, bin it. It's not them. It's you.
NFTS: Be clear-eyed about reader feedback/critiques. If three trusted readers concur on a problem, well, don't bin it ... but accept that you've got to do something about it. It took me a long time to take my own advice about this and with my first novel, I got stuck in an endless loop of rejection and submission that only ceased when I wrote another book.
Catherine Tate: Don't take criticism personally, take from it what's useful. Apply it and move on to something better. And be brave. No one got anywhere by being too scared to open their mouth in case nobody laughed.
NFTS: Yup. Like I said before. And as for the courage thing: it's hard but no one ever got published by giving up.
And before I go back to work, here is my favourite Catherine Tate sketch in which teenage scourge Lauren "Am I bovvered?" Cooper quotes Shakespeare to an English teacher (played of course by David Tennant aka Dr Who).
P.S. Check out this t-shirt in my shop -that- never- makes- any- money- because-the- Spreadshirt- markup- is- so- high.
It says "Done Procrastinating" in front. On the back it says "Later"