If there's one thing any writer knows, it's the art of procrastination. You sit at your computer, the cursor blinks back at you, inspiration begins to strike... Then half an hour later, you're watching a video of a dog who can talk and you can't remember what you were originally planning on doing.
Now, sure, when inspiration really strikes, I can totally lose myself in my writing. I'll be hammering away at my keyboard for hours at a time. But it's fair to say that we all - all of us, not only writers - have those moments when we just can't quite make ourselves get on with the task at hand.
If you're someone who finds that happening to them on a regular basis, help is on hand! No, I'm not going to teach you how to stop procrastinating - that sounds far too much like hard work. Instead, I'm going to tell you what my favourite time-wasters are, so that you can enjoy them for yourselves. You'll thank me one day. Probably not on a day an assignment is due, though...
You should watch Dan and Phil. I mean, right after reading this blog.
Seriously, YouTube might as well be renamed "ULTIMATE PROCRASTINATION MACHINE." Or something slightly catchier to that effect.
Since I "discovered" Dan and Phil (had them waved in my face by my best friend until I succumbed - thank you Lyds!), I have lost literally hours of my life when I should have been writing, but have instead preferred to watch two stupidly attractive dudes with amazing hair play The Sims 4. Phil Lester is now my number one crush and I know a scary amount of random facts about two blokes I've never met. In case you're wondering where the above gif comes from, it's from this video, which I watched in bed last night and laughed so much I had a coughing fit.
And it's not just Dan and Phil (well, roughly 75% of my YouTube time is taken up by them, but other stuff is available). One of my favourite time wasting activities is YouTube karaoke. You type in a song title, add the word "karaoke" on the end, find a backing track and sing your heart out like the frustrated diva you are. What's not to love?!
My other top YouTube recommendation is definitely "Honest Trailers." I could sit and watch these for literally hours at a time. In case you have no idea what I'm talking about, it does exactly what it says on the tin: they're movie given a more honest trailer and they are hilarious. Given that I'm obsessed with Les Miserables, it's no surprise that one of my favourite trailers they've done is for the movie version, which you can watch here.
Add to the above delights the fact that you can find all kinds of documentaries, music videos, old TV shows and assorted oddities and it's no wonder that YouTube is my number one time wasting activity, possibly of all time.
2. Social Media
I moan about Facebook. I moan about Twitter. I moan about Tumblr. Would I be without any of them? No, no and thrice no.
Social media is a marvellous way to lose an hour or three of your life. You pop onto Twitter just to "see what's happening," you notice an unusual hashtag, you get involved... Next thing you know, it's dark outside and you haven't eaten since breakfast.
Besides which, social media doesn't have to be a total waste of your time (the fact that I follow several "puppy gif" Tumblr accounts is beside the point - they are SERIOUS BUSINESS). Can anyone else remember how we as a nation reacted in unison to major world events before the introduction of Twitter?! Twitter is the first place I head when anything happens, these days. Sometimes, that strange bonding-effect of feeling as though you and a whole heap of strangers have joined together to discuss some big news event can actually inspire me to write something on the subject. So, checking Twitter roughly eight million times a day is a totally productive use of my time, thank you very much.
3. My Best Friend
She's my number one time waster, obvs. And never actually time wasted.
My bestie is pretty much the ultimate way I procrastinate. Can't think of something interesting to blog about? I text Lydia. Seen a new video that has only served to deepen my aforementioned crush on a YouTuber? I text Lydia.
And, given that we're on the same, very strange wavelength, many times, our perfectly normal conversations quickly end up turning into something entirely off the wall. Today, for example, we decided that our new greeting for one another should be to pretend to whack each other in the face with our imaginary penises.
Luckily, I try surround myself with people who are weird as I am, meaning that I can do this form of procrastination with a couple of my other friends, too. If I'm in a strange mood, I'll send one of them a random text and simply enjoy the bizarre conversation it leads to. Procrastination's more fun when you're dragging someone else away from stuff they should be doing, too.
4. Google image search
I will often sit down to write a blog and immediately begin wandering off at a tangent, as I try to decide on which pictures or gifs I should include. A perfectly innocent trip to Google, to find a picture that relates to whatever I'm writing about, can often lead to half an hour of sifting through images of animals that look like famous people, for example. As a case in point, I think the dog above looks like Bjorn from ABBA and I will not be persuaded otherwise.
Since I started using more and more gifs on this blog, my time spent on Google has only increased further. I dread to think how much space on my laptop is taken up by gifs, but I would hazard a guess that if you lay them end to end, they'd circle the world at least twice. And now that I've finally learned how to make them myself, the problem has only worsened. I have an addiction.
AN ADDICTION, I TELL YOU.
5. Games on my iPhone
I recently discovered that you can download classic Sonic The Hedgehog to your iPhone (I'm sure it's been available for ages, I'm just notoriously slow to catch on). I've also recently discovered that I'm terrible at it. I'm sure I never used to be - in fact, I remember kicking ass at it on my sister's old Sega Game Gear, but apparently as a 33 year old whose thumbs have been ruined by smartphones, I suck. This knowledge, of course, only serves to make me more determined to improve and that can only be achieved by playing it for far too long, when I'm meant to be doing more important things.
Angry Birds is still a massive addiction of mine, too. I have a strange compulsion to not move past a level until I have a 3* rating on it, which means my eyes are pretty much square from all the furious screen-staring I've done over the years.
Add to that a rather more sedate love of playing Solitaire on my phone and you'll surely see why I get so little done. And why I am destined to have arthritic hands and blindness in my later years.
So, what are your top time-wasters? Let me know. And then you'll know why there's been a long time between blog updates...