22 May 2020

Procrastination for Writers – the uses and misuses of YouTube

My first attempt
As Covid-19 continues to waft non-too-benignly through the air, it seems I am not alone in being unable to knuckle down and concentrate. First I put my lack of discipline down to the physical exertion of remobilising after a hip replacement, then there was the housework to catch up on, then washing and altering curtains, then... baking bread. If the lack of flour on the supermarket shelves is anything to go by, I am not alone.

I’ve attempted to make bread in the past, loaves which could easily have doubled as house-bricks – bread machine or hand-knead mattered little. It was following a chance YouTube link to no-knead bread which re-started my fascination, and I am now a dab-hand at wholewheat, wholewheat & rye, and mixed seed wholewheat loaves, though the most scrumptious has to be the olive, lemon and thyme bread. With garlic & thyme butter, of course. It is easy to see where my time disappears to.

There again, it has given me an insight into medieval bread-making, when a woman would take her dough out into a meadow and leave it for several hours to attract natural yeasts, and doubtless an assortment of insects, but let’s not focus on that.

YouTube has become my go-to research tool for practically everything, despite the hundreds of non-fiction books lining the walls of my dining room. Whatever is my query someone has been there before me, and what point is there trying to reinvent the wheel? I’ve learned how to cultivate endless basil plants from a cheap supermarket tub, how to use photo editing software, where to find a tool annoyingly hidden in the depths of LibreOffice.

Its portal also offers a plethora of older television documentaries and some interesting lectures. The British Academy, as part of a series, has a ten minute talk by Diarmaid MacCulloch on How to understand Thomas Cromwell, even though so many of the man’s own letters have vanished (and why). My current favourite is a fascinating Timeline series on Building a Medieval Castle in France using the tools of the day.

For writers deep in procrastination mode, there are more talks on realising words and marketing them than can be jabbed at with a sharpened quill. And here I am, finally writing. At least it’s a start. The trick will be to ensure it continues.

Go on, own up - how goes your own procrastination? Or does the word never pass across your lips?