Kate Lloyd

Kate Lloyd is a novelist and a passionate observer of human relationships. A native of Baltimore, Kate spends time with family and friends in Lancaster County, PA, the inspiration for her Amish novel, Leaving Lancaster, releasing this March. She is a member of the Lancaster County Mennonite Historical Society. Kate and her husband live in the Pacific Northwest, the setting for Kate's first novel, A Portrait of Marguerite. Kate studied painting and sculpture in college. She has worked a variety of jobs, including car salesman and restaurateur. Find out more about Kate Lloyd on her website at www.katelloyd.net or on www.facebook.com/katelloydbooks.

For Writers Only

The Art of Procrastination

The best way to get something done is to begin
                                                         Author Unknown

Some days writing is the last thing I want to do. Whenever I’m in the mood to reorganize a closet or refold my husband’s T-shirts, I take it as a sign I’m supposed to be writing. Pretty crazy to avoid my passion, huh? Not that I don’t get great ideas and conjure up unusual words and sentences while executing the mundane, but I admit I delay writing, sometimes until the night before my critique group gathers. Or that very morning.

I recall nudging my sons to finish their homework right after school instead of waiting until bedtime. Then why do I procrastinate? Because the laundry needs my attention and I have fifty-three unanswered e-mails. I remind myself that if I wish to be a writer, I must write. And that doesn’t mean I should call or e-mail a friend to bounce my ideas off them for moral support. Dorothea Brande, in one of my favorite books Becoming a Writer, 1934, discourages authors from verbally telling their stories, because talking about it deflates their punch. She urges her readers to write!

To entice myself, I created a morning ritual, making the climb out of bed less painful. First, I brew dark roasted coffee and lace it with heavy whipping cream, then wander into the living room. I turn on our gas fireplace and a string of sparkly Christmas tree lights that adorn our mantelpiece all year. I claim the best spot on the couch, the seat with a sliver of a view. I ease down onto plump pillows and hug myself with a cozy blanket.

I pull out my spiral notebook to journal about any old notion that happens to straggle through my drowsy brain, without correcting my spelling or punctuation. If an injustice distracts me, I gripe or whine. I might even ask myself why I’m journaling when I have nothing to say. Journaling is like walking in place before a brisk stroll. My mental muscles warm up and gear into action.

Many of my night-owl friends might scowl at my morning suggestions. I encourage those who prefer writing at midnight to come up with their own routines!

While journaling, my mind eventually meanders to my latest writing project. If I’m stuck and can’t envision the next scene or chapter, I might list every possible situation, from the ridiculous to the improbable, to get the chaos out of my head and onto the page. A silly-looking list, but occasionally ingenious scenes or scenarios emerge. I’ve tried journaling on my laptop, but without the same results as an old fashioned pencil on paper.

I should pray and read the Bible first thing, but I frequently procrastinate. I plod on my own until I remember to thank the Lord and ask Him to bless me and steer my writing.

All through the day, out of catalogs, I collect names, plots, and photos of future characters. My desk is blanketed with Post-it notes, scraps of paper, and books. I won’t leave the house without paper and pencil or my mini recorder in case an idea blooms or a character’s name reveals itself.

Procrastination can take many forms that make us feel as though we’re writing when we’re not, for instance, spending hours online or at the library doing research as a way to put off writing. My first Amish novel, Leaving Lancaster, required extensive

research to get my facts right and capture the fascinating culture. I browsed the Internet, gathered reading material, and studied the Amish almost every night for over a year. My mission in traveling to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, was to find Amish and Mennonites to read my manuscript, to build relationships, and to inspect the area with discerning eyes. I was well rewarded with now treasured friendships, and the beauty of Lancaster County outshone my expectations!

Tears brew when I recall how the Amish and Mennonites I met, and other Amish fiction and nonfiction writers, have been so kind as they helped me―and asked for nothing in return.

I’ve learned that authors are a generous lot. I prayed five years for a Christian critique group, and my prayer was answered tenfold! A gathering of eight dedicated authors, we sometimes dawdle—procrastination!—until one of us looks at the clock and reminds us we’ve gathered for a specific purpose and time is scarce. Then we pray, and with kindness and humor, get honest with one another’s work. And we encourage one another to finish our projects, because we all procrastinate.

Writing is much like painting: An artist can rework and improve an area or even change the whole background. I’ve learned to enjoy rewriting and editing, and the challenge of improving my work, then bringing it to completion.

Ah, time for a pat on the back and a celebration of chocolate or Thai takeout, then I head out for a neighborhood walk with my recorder as new ideas percolate.


Leaving Lancaster