Suspend Your Disbelief

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When procrastination is good for you

Procrastination Meter

Maybe it’s just the time of year—has anyone ever finished a project during the holiday season? Ever? In the history of time? But I’ve been doing some quality procrastination lately. But maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

On Monday, we talked about Mark Frauenfelder’s suggestion that being creative outside of your field can help you be more creative in your field. Now here are two other posts to make you feel less bad about procrastination—and maybe even make it helpful. Both are from Grub Street’s excellent blog, the Grub Street Daily. First, Katrin Schumann discusses the value of “cross-pollination” for creative writing:

On any given day, there’s an immense and colorful collage of informational detritus that collects in my brain. I seem to be drawn instinctively to what I need. In the past month I’ve read Lionel Shriver’s THE POST BIRTHDAY WORLD; Sue Miller’s THE GOOD MOTHER; the screenplay of CRASH; Blake Snyder’s SAVE THE CAT!; Anthony Wolf’s GET OUT OF MY LIFE, But First Will You Take Me and Cheryl to the Mall?; Martha Stout’s THE SOCIOPATH NEXT DOOR, blog posts by the brilliant Penelope Trunk (especially ones on sexual harassment). I’ve watched this riveting YouTube video and perused this hilarious site (though I haven’t yet figured out how blackface elves feature in my book). Oh yeah, and I’ve read 28 days worth of New York Times articles. Recently, I came across this pivotal one about teaching teens how to have good sex. Not to mention, I’ve watched some great movies (and some so-bad-it’s-fab TV).

Am I procrastinating? Yes, if you judge by my total word count.

But, no. I’m gathering up critical supplies for my death-defying trek into the wilderness. I’m embarking on an insane quest, and without those supplies, I’d be a goner.

And in a twopart series, Amy Marcott suggests ways to procrastinate that might help your work. Marcott offers sites chock-full of arresting images like Globe Genie, sites to get you thinking about language in new ways (like OneUpMe, where users try to best each other with similes), sites where you can digitally eavesdrop to help your dialogue (such as Overheard in Athens), and sites to explore characters and scenes, like Daily Mugshot. Part 1 and Part 2 offer lots more suggestions.

Do you have favorite sites for procrastinating—I mean, developing your fiction indirectly through online reading and research?

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