Font procrastination

I guess I’m pretty fortunate in that I seem to be able to get by on about four hours sleep. I usually wake up about half-three in the morning and then cram in a couple of hours writing before I go to the gym and then on to work. It’s the perfect routine for me, except for one small thing: I’m Earth’s worst procrastinator.
Starting to write at five in the morning would be great – if I hadn’t been up and shuffling around the house since four.
So what’s going on in that lost hour? Okay, well, there’s the washing up (no need; we have a dishwasher). The office always needs a bit of a tidyup (which of course can’t be done on a Sunday or something). And then I need about fifteen minutes to play with cat (and he doesn’t like being woken up for it I can tell you). The last ten minutes or so is taken up with my never-ending quest for the perfect writing font. A complete waste of time. If I ever find this elusive God font, will I miraculously start churning out best-sellers every few days or so? Probably not, but with a decent screen-font I can write more comfortably for longer (though I always take about ten minutes every hour or so). If I’m not distracted by odd little twiddly bits hanging off every word then I’m more likely to spot mistakes before they reach my editor.
Obviously, there’s no such thing as the perfect font for everyone, but I did come across one that is as close to perfection as it comes. And that font is . . .

*Drum Roll*

Microsoft Consolas.

That surprised you didn’t it? Well it shouldn’t really. Microsoft have come up with some real workhorses fontwise, and Consolas is one of their best. It’s clean, easy to read, well-spaced, doesn’t have twiddly bits, and the clincher for me is they’ve made it easy to distinguish between hypens, en-dashes and em-dashes. That’s quite a design trick when you consider they’ve only got a fixed width to play with.
So, if your eyes hurt, or you’re tired of wasting ten minutes of your writing session fiddling with the font dialog, give Consolas a try. If you have Office installed (and love it or hate it, most writers seem to) then Consolas should have been dropped on your machine right along with it.

Writer’s block

I’ve never had it, never believed in it, and according to her very brilliant book, the same goes for the very brilliant Ann Patchett.

What I have had (and what I believe everyone who has “writer’s block” is actually suffering from) is a healthy dose of fear and procrastination. Having sat down at your desk, arranged your pens and picked your playlist, you then stare at the screen and wait for something wonderful to happen.

And you wait…

Still nothing…

Okay, that feels like writer’s block, but it isn’t. That’s fear; fear that what you write is going to be a rubbish, and the longer you sit staring at your screen, the worse the feeling gets, until you suddenly remember that the dishes are piling up (you have a dishwasher) or the carpets need vacuuming (you have a cleaner) or that the car is still covered in bird poo (you don’t have a car).

That’s procrastination, and it’s usually followed by guilt, which is usually followed by a doughnut, and then more guilt.

Okay, so back to the writing desk. The junk you’re so worried about writing? Well…write it. All of it. Just bang it out as fast as you can, and when you’re done, just keep going. Anything that comes into your head: the odd bit of flowery prose, a poetic shopping list, what you saw when you stood at the summit of a mountain. Anything that gets the right side of your brain firing.  I mean, you wouldn’t start a six-mile run without warming up first, would you?

Now after about ten minutes of stream-of-consciousness type hammering, I usually find myself drifting back to the story I was supposed to be writing, but sometimes I don’t. Don’t get hung up on the idea that you have to work day in day out on the same piece. Take a break if you want to; write something else. The important thing is that you write every day.

But what do you do with all that crap you’ve written during your warm-up? Well, I tend to keep it. Most of it is exactly that – crap, so I probably won’t look at it again, but if I happen to read it through again, I might find the occasional phrase or sentence that I can rework into something halfway decent.

Or sometimes I just post the whole thing as a blog entry… 🙂