Tag Archives: procrastination

My Dopamine addiction

Phil: Last week I mentioned that I need a combination of Smarties and an iPod to kick-start my creativity. Despite having the second of these over the weekend, my progress towards hitting a couple of deadlines was laughable. I sat at the computer but seemed to be in full-on procrastination mode.

It seems that this isn’t entirely my fault. Biology is working against me.

Awaiting the arrival of a man to service my car yesterday, I was listening to something on Radio 4 and there was a man who had written a book about brain science talking about dopamine.

Now, perhaps sitting outside a shuttered garage in Leamington’s Car Quarter isn’t the best place to learn science, but my understanding of his theory is as follows:

Every time we find out something new, our brains get a little shot of dopamine. This is a pleasure chemical and makes us feel good.

The web is full of new things – e-mails, posts on Facebook, Tweets and pictures of cats. Each time we see a new one, the old dopamine shot kicks in.

Once we have a shot, we want more and the easiest way to get more is to spend time refreshing the e-mail, looking at Facebook and Twitter or digging out more pictures of cats. Doing proper work doesn’t give the same kick so even with serious self control, you find it hard not to do the things that provide the “high”.

The effects are reduced when the subject is in a stimulating environment.

All this explains why, when I’m really engaged in a project, I’ll work all hour on it. Give me some mundane stuff to do and I’ll hammer FaceTwitter every 10 minutes. It’s not my fault – evolution forced me to do it by rewarding learning.

Sadly, the garage opened up before I found out what I should do to solve this problem, so if anyone has any suggestions, I still have some deadlines looming…

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Write while you remember

Post ItPhil: Two months!

It’s been two whole months since we sat down and planned Book 2. Since then we’ve had Christmas and New Year and all sorts of other really wild stuff. Now I find myself sitting down to turn the pile of Post-It notes in to a proper list of scenes in a whacking great spreadsheet that we can work from, and struggling to figure out what we were thinking when they were written.

Obviously I’m not a complete blank, the basic plot is rattling around the back of my head. Some notes though are throwing me. Candice has written that she likes the film Titanic for example.

Really? I can’t see that being her sort of flick. More to the point, why do I care, other than worrying about my friend’s taste in movies, in context of the book?

I’m sure there is a good reason for this but even more sure that if I’d done this job 60 days ago, it would have been a whole lot easier…

Moral: Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. You’ll probably have forgotten what it was if you do!


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The words I must not type.

bubbleshooterPhil: You will notice that it’s double Phil this week. The other half of team nolanparker is performing some important research beside a pool in Italy. Apparently writers need to read a lot of novels and somehow this can be done best while topping up the tan and eating gelato.

I’ve been left some homework too, although how this works is unclear. When I was at school, the people going off got homework not the ones stuck at home. Anyway, my job is to stick all the bits of The Book back together into a single manuscript. We’ve been writing little inserts here and there and every so often they must be swept up and glued together or we’ll lose them. Apparently, this week is the best time to do this. And only one of us has access to a computer.

All this is fine. Once I get started writing I can sit here with my iPod on in a little world of my own writing story to my heart’s content. Time passes and when I look up, it will be a lot later then it was when I began. All I have to do is get started.

What I must never do is type the following words into the Google search box on my browser home page:

Flash Bubbleshooter

If I do, within a couple of clicks, I will end up at this site.

Do NOT click on that link or you too will find yourself mindlessly shooting coloured bubbles at each other in an effort to clear the screen.

I’m not big on computer games. Years ago I worked in an IT department that went through a phase of playing a networked 1st person shooter. I had a go but my character just wandered around bumping into things and being killed off by my colleagues. It was all a bit difficult and to be honest, I didn’t have the interest to practise enough to become average at it.

Simple to play games, what the industry calls “casual games”, are much more my cup of tea. Bubbleshooter is simple. Tetris is simple. That snooker game I had for a while on my phone was simple. The trick is not aspiring to anything above novice level. By doing that, you don’t lose quickly and it all becomes a bit addictive. At least I could un-install the snooker. Google is always waiting for me.

Which is bad news for getting things done.

To be fair, I’ve given up Tetris. I managed to clear 100 lines which in my head counted as success. I beat it and as long as I never play again, I’ll be fine. It’s a bit like packets of biscuits. If I don’t open them I’m fine. Once opened, they get eaten.

All writers procrastinate. Some chose to use computers without web access as there is nothing like the interweb for wasting time. I just feel I’m missing out. I get jittery and start checking e-mail on my phone. At least with it running in the background, an occasional quick look satisfies me.

Anyway, I’ve had my one game this evening. Now I better get to work or Candice will shout at me.

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Candice: Yes that says gold, not Goal for those of you in to football.  Think in more of a Spandau Ballet stylie (speaking of which, have been dragged to see them twice and actually had quite a good time but always full of people older than me trying to relive their youth. lots of air punching and arms round shoulders)

Anyway, I posted last week I was on the look out for a gold box postbox.  Well as you can see I found on in Alcester, just down the road.  It’s the box of Nick Skelton, Olympic horsey type person.  Apparently there has been abit of a ho ha about this box, as it’s near Skelton’s house but the town he was born in, Bedworth, Cov, kicked up such a fuss they have one too.

We pulled up on a damp afternoon in the town, nipped out, did the honours and then turned round to find four other groups queuing to do the same.  Hum, I know we are trend setters, but….

According to my friend, this one looks like a gold Dalek.

I then went home and painted my nails in a gold stylie with added crackle effect. So I was really feeling the GOLD rush post Olympics.

Let’s be serious, I wasnt really, I was doing what everyone does.  Procrastinating.   We all do it, and some of us could win an Olympic gold at it.  I have to say I’m not great at getting down to things if I have too much time on my hands.  One small job can fill a day.  But, if I’m busy, I get 10 things done.

There are some great stories in this article on the BBC website, entitled “Epic tales of time wasting“.  Discovered whilst trying to be busy at work (actually not by me I must add).

Ask any writer what they did today, and if they were faced with a lie detector test most would say, “Procrastinated, mainly”.  So here’s to us all finding time to fill the day, and now I’m off to weigh the cat….

PS:  My husband has actually done this while working from home. and emailed me to tell me.

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A naked lady stole my homework. Honest.

BurlesquePhil: Some achieve procrastination, if they get around to it. Other have procrastination thrust upon them.

I had an evening earmarked for the 5-page challenge. Tea and chocolate were to hand. The computer was warmed up and ready to go. I even had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to write. Not a finished article you understand, but enough to get started with and watch develop on the page. I even had a killer first line. The deadline for when my tanned friend returns was focussing my mind too.

Then a ‘phone call from work. They were short of a person to steward a show. No one else was available, would I go in. Grrrr

Which is how I spent the evening when I should have been writing, looking after a burlesque show. Keeping tabs on the audience while a pretty lady took her clothes off on stage. It’s not my fault at all.

Never mind, there is always tomorrow. And I’ve still got that chocolate, so it’s not all bad.


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