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?


  1. My procrastination has emerged in a rediscovery of photography, a craft I practised as a professional for some of my early years. I was brought up on film, of course; an 8 shot roll cost much of my weekly wage as a paper-boy, so selecting shots became second nature. Now, in the digital age, I have the capacity to take 18,000 shots on the memory card of my Nikon, but I'm still very selective! And I'm struggling, at the age of 72, to come to terms with new language detailing the benefits of image editing software. But it's a joy making pictures. And, who knows, I might even be able to design a cover for the next book! Thanks for the post, Linda. Entertained me and got me thinking (an activity I mostly avoid).

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Stuart. This period of stasis does seem to have brought a resurgence in long laid-aside interests. My thoughts on your 18k shots on your Nikon's memory card is... how do you file them so you can retrieve them at will? Someone desperate to sort her own needs guidance!

    2. Ah, the capacity of the memory card is 18k, Linda. I never keep any photos on the camera, however. I store them immeadiately in folders on my PC. There are 103 folders containing 16049 digital images (and that's after I reduced the count by deleting over 5,000 as either of poor quality or duplications!). Each day I take out my camera, the memory card is empty. It's the only way I can keep track of images. My software allows me to search under umpteen different keywords, so finding any particular image is generally quite easy. Sometimes, however, a pic is misfiled and I come across it by accident when examining one of the folders. Good luck with your sorting - I blame it for my current insanity!

    3. And this is the problem. I have 180+ folders saved (mostly) by year and place, but finding, say, a particular castle or artefact is nothing less than an exhaustive slog. Do you descriptively name every image?