by | Nov 3, 2023 | Tosca Lee, On writing | 3 comments

By Tosca Lee
Productive Procrastination Split Pea Soup

Last night an author friend of mine sent me a message accompanied by an unspoken (but noted by me) sage nod. 

“I am never more productive with busywork type tasks than when I’m on deadline for a book!” she said.

How’d she know I was “writing?” Because I’d just posted a picture of an amazing—perhaps the most amazing of my life—quiche right out of the oven.

And a picture of a giant batch of split pea soup. And chili. And cinnamon rolls (they go with chili—it’s a Nebraska thing).

Productive Procrastination Organizing

And evidence of my afternoon spent gleefully sorting the fast food packet drawer.

Not pictured: more cooking, an entire closet edit, garden picking, teaching writing, talking about writing, thinking about writing, and lots, lots, lots of laundry. 

Another author friend wrote yesterday to ask, “Can you come write at my house?”

Indeed. I can write my way into sorting her pantry and junk drawer. Into casserole and cake-baking (which I also did last week). And some old-fashioned ironing.

Have I technically gotten many (or any) words written?


Productive Procrastination Quiche

“Technically”…no. But I’m preparing the way for a new work. And for my neatly-organized drawers and closet and well-stocked fridge to fall to shambles and empty out until there’s nothing but the packet drawer left to subsist on.

I was watching the beginning of “Romancing the Stone” the other day. You know the scene where Kathleen Turner finishes her novel and can’t find a tissue in her apartment—or groceries in her refrigerator. It’s a cautionary tale.

I’m sure hardier author souls leap right in, throwing consequences (and grocery lists) to the wind. But as for me, this is all part of the process.

Care for some quiche? 

What are your favorite ritual procrastinations when embarking on a project?

Tosca Lee is a New York Times bestselling author of twelve novels including The Long March Home (May 2023, coauthored by Marcus Brotherton), The Line BetweenThe ProgenyIscariot, and The Legend of Sheba. Her work has been translated into seventeen languages and optioned for TV and film. She is the recipient of two International Book Awards, Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion, ECPA Fiction Book of the Year, and the Nebraska Book Award. Her work has finaled for the High Plains Book Award, the Library of Virginia Reader’s Choice Award, the Christy Award, and a second ECPA Book of the Year, among others. Lee earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Smith College. A former first runner-up to Mrs. United States, she lives in Nebraska with her husband and two of four children still at home.

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  1. Karna Small Bodmank

    Cinnamon rolls with chili? Hmmm. I’ll have to try that combo. As for procrastinating, I’m an ace at that sort of thing – by “sorting” closets for clothes to donate, alphabetizing my spice rack, buying Lord knows what all I don’t truly need online, and, of course, searching for more great books to read on Amazon. But whatever you’re doing, Tosca, it takes nothing away from your terrific novels. Always on the lookout for the next one!!!

  2. Alex Kava

    Yes, cinnamon rolls and chili! Tosca, I need to go to Runza now. LOL! I’m at the “idea” phase of a new project, and just this morning I found myself looking at my closet, thinking I need to clean, sort and rearrange.

  3. Lisa Black

    I actually keep a list titled “Things to do when the book is finished,” which will include things like washing the kitchen cabinets inside and out. Though right now, while I’m trying to finish a book, I’ve also been tackling jobs like digging out the sprinkler heads. Yesterday I washed all the windows inside and out (out required a scrubbrush and garden hose to clean the sills) including curtains and mini blinds and screens.
    In my defense,, these are ‘fall tasks’…the southern version of ‘spring cleaning’, things I do after the rainy season has ended.