How To Avoid Work
--and other all too possible pursuits
(by Elaine Fox)

I’m excited! I have a novella coming out at the end of the month, in the collection titled FOUR DUKES AND A DEVIL, that was actually a complete joy to write! I got to use some of my favorite elements: a dog, of course. A ghost! And I set it in one of my favorite seaside towns in Cape Cod.

I was thrilled to participate in this anthology because not only does the reader get three fabulous historical romances--with three hunky Regency dukes--but also one truly scary paranormal devil, and my contemporary romantic tale, boasting a dog named Duke!

My story, “THE DUKE WHO CAME TO DINNER,” practically wrote itself, rolling off my fingertips and onto the screen with an effortlessness that amazed me. This is not always the case. Actually, this is almost never the case. While I love writing, there is no way around the fact that it is usually a lot of work. So I, like many other authors I know, occasionally get caught up in Work Avoidance Traps that cloak themselves in the guise of Productivity Enhancing Techniques.

Case in point: I recently decided that I needed to become more organized when plotting. So, I bought some index cards, wrote a scene on each one, and planned to put them up on a bulletin board so that I could "see" the whole book at once. The problem was, I couldn’t find a bulletin board large enough. What I did find were self-adhesive cork panels that could be configured to fit any space. Perfect!

In order to put them up, however, I had to spend hours moving all the framed pictures I had on the designated wall, then I had to measure and install the cork panels, write up the index cards and put them up in some kind of order.

Unfortunately, after doing all this I realized that I couldn’t see the darn index cards from across the room. So, I took more time, re-wrote a bunch of them--using short descriptors in big, Sharpie-d words--and stuck them back up. This was slightly better but I still wasn’t Feeling The Book, and I was getting bummed because what was supposed to be my Magic Writing Bullet was not working the miracle it was supposed to.

I decided to leave the situation/frustration and regroup the next day.

The ordeal, however, would not leave me alone. In the wee hours of the night, I awoke to the sound of the cork panels springing off the walls. Tacks, index cards, crumbling cork everywhere. This strikes me, at that late hour, as a kind of tell-tale heart. I’ve buried my plot under office supplies and it’s telling on me. Either that or it’s trying to kill itself.

I’ve since taken the cork panels down and spent another day trying to get the double-sided tape off the wall (beware the blow-dryer, it removes paint, as well!) and have returned them. I want to put up an erasable whiteboard that I bought to at least map out my themes, but I now have what I think are valid concerns about my wall-mounting abilities.

Of course, we all know the absolute best work avoidance technique is to sit back and read a good book. In fact, there are times when this is exactly the right thing to do. On June 30, you might want to make a point of avoiding work and pick up FOUR DUKES AND A DEVIL. It could provide the mental health break that might actually increase productivity!

But how about you all? Anybody have an amusing work-avoidance story? Or, better yet, something with Time Drain potential that actually worked to the good? (On second thought, maybe you shouldn’t tell me about that. I can’t afford the time to try to make it work.)


Blogger Mary Blayney said:

What a fabulous cautionary tale, Elaine. My work avoidance is solitaire, not doubt about it. I have convinced myself that it actually helps the creative process. Please, do not tell me about an scientific research that proves the opposite.

In terms of mega work avoidance, I have changed the room that is my office three times and have finally found the room that does actually improve my creative process -- it's the room farthest from the door!

Looking forward to FOUR DUKES AND A DEVIL.

9:22 AM  

Anonymous Elaine Fox said:

Mary, I'm convinced that whatever you THINK improves the creative process actually does improve it. I myself have an addiction to spider solitaire. And Scrabble.

Oh! and I once decided I had to move my office to another room and spent two days dismantling and reassembling my desk to get it through the doors. So you see I'm an old pro at Work Avoidance.

10:02 AM  

Anonymous Tellie said:

Congratulations on the novella! Maybe I'll check it out on June 30th!

I put the pro in procrastination. I am a college student and I've been known to do just about anything to avoid work. This includes surfing the internet, sleeping, talking on the phone, texting, tweeting, entrecard dropping, and walking outside.

I'd actually rather stare at the ceiling than do work sometimes (yes I'm lazy). But I always get the work done...eventually.

I've gotten much better over the years, but I was definitely a hard one to handle while I was a teenager.

11:03 AM  

Anonymous Elaine Fox said:

Tellie, I can relate to all those things! (Though I have to confess I don't know what 'entrecard dropping' means -- am I out of touch or what???) And yes, staring at the ceiling is a favorite pastime of mine too! I contend, though, that ceiling-staring is part of the essential 'rumination' process, is therefore work related and so not a waste of time. :)

11:15 AM  

Anonymous Lavinia said:

I am definitely putting it on my "to buy list."

I can avoid work doing almost anything. Even the laundry seems fun when I should be working. I am always amazed at how much time it takes to write for a solid hour.

And then there are those days when it just flows. I'll wish you more of them.

8:35 PM  

Anonymous MLGamble said:

Hey Elaine Fox! Great to hear we get more of you in an anthology...I am a huge fan of your writing, especially loved Bedtime for Bonsai and Hot Stuff! As far as work avoidance, my devil is sitting and staring, thinking of work, then falling asleep after napping through all the set aside time for writing. Sigh. But keep it up...I'm convinced we are 'writing' all the time, even if no words are on paper. Can't wait to read more Elaine Fox!

8:44 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Elaine--Congratulations on one more great story to be published! Work avoidance? Me? Ok, my favorite diversion is to go on a little vacuuming adventure ...

9:21 AM  

Blogger Caffey said:

Hi Elaine and all! As a reader, I too so can't wait for this to be out! The combo of stories is going to be fun reading. I love a variety of genres and this is one way to get to read them! LOL on your board. I'm visualizing this all as I read it and can't help the laughing! I must find out if you end up using this and for which book. It should be dedicated to 'my cork board dilemma'

My favorite diversion is organize my books and I say that's cleaning (but I get to sit there and re-read parts of my favorites as well as sneak peek into those I haven't read and organize what I will read next. My hubby thinks that I'm deciding what to give up (NOT!)

9:51 AM  

Anonymous Cathy Chance said:

So Elaine Fox, what are you doing next? I love all your dog books, and also was a fan of your historical books...especially one called Angel? About a biracial guy hiding his true identity? it was so interesting and compelling, loved the heroine too. Any thoughts, with our hunky President, of revisiting this idea of biracial romance? Any way, please keep up the output. It's fabulous! Can't wait to read this one.

10:38 AM  

Anonymous Molly Brody said:

Elaine, I'm looking forward to your Duke story as I loved your last few with dogs as characters.

So what stories are you considering for the next book? I thought that Dylan in Bedtime for Bonsai was a great hero and would love to see you do more like him

1:04 PM  

Anonymous Elaine Fox said:

Wow! GREAT diversions, everyone! I especially like 'rearranging' the books, LOL. Caffey, last time I did that I had a box next to me for giveaways -- that box had no more than three books in it by the end of the exercise.

I also love napping -- and even doing laundry when it's time to work.

Cathy, I can't believe you remember Untamed Angel! That was one of my favorite historicals and I'd love to revisit the theme sometime. I got the best letters from people who appreciated the biracial hero caught up in the prejudices and turmoil of his times.

Molly, I'm so glad to hear you liked Dylan! He was kind of a departure for me -- a bit more troubled than my usual hero -- but I loved him too. And I'd love to do more like him ... time will tell. :)

10:45 AM  

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