Productive Procrastination

Writers are weird. We love writing, yet we'll come up 1,000 excuses to get up from the desk and not write. Sometimes it's just being lazy and other times we need to step away and recharge our creative batteries. Whatever the reason, there are going to be days when the writing isn't happening.

The good news is that you can productively procrastinate if you do it the right way.

There are a lot of exercises you can do to get your writing juices flowing that can later be used in your marketing efforts. So next time you just can't write another word on that WIP, try one of these five tips to get back on track and save it for your marketing plan.

1. Cast lists
Who doesn't love to oogle the rich and beautiful people on the internet? Creating a dream cast can be a great way to focus in on your characters. Maybe your character has the boy-next-door looks of Joseph Gordon-Levitt (a personal favorite of mine), but with the bad boy attitude of Johnny Depp. Create a cast list, find some photos and save them to a special folder or create a Pinterest board. You can use these as inspiration as you write.

How do I market this? 
You can use a cast list in a lot of fun ways. Consider adding this as a bonus feature on your website, or include it in your next newsletter. This would also make a great post for your blog tour. Wanna shake things up? Hold a contest and let your readers guess who your cast list is. Come up with clues to each actor and the reader with the most right wins a prize. 

2. Playlists
Music is a beautiful thing. It can take a scene in a movie and change everything about it, just with a song. So what music would make up the soundtrack to your book's movie. You can go with songs that inspire you, your characters favorite songs, or just ones that make you think of different scenes. There are plenty of free services that let you make an online playlist you can share with your readers. I like Pandora myself, but find one that works for you.

How do I market this?
Much like a cast list, you can share this with your readers on your website, newsletter, or blog tour. Going into too much detail about what all the songs mean can be a bit of a spoiler to readers who haven't gotten to the end yet, so be careful. You could give readers a clue about what the first few songs mean, then direct them to a hidden page on your website to learn about the rest after they've read the book. This is a great way to continue that relationship once they've finished reading.

3. Scenery pictures
Novels don't happen in a blank room. Our characters live in the real world, even if that world is nothing like our own. Scour the internet for pictures of places that match your book. You can go big with outdoor shots, pictures of room decor, or even focused close-ups of items that are important to your characters. You can use this as reference as you write your story.

How do I market this?
One of my favorite visual marketing tools is the teaser quote. Little quotes or lines from a book that make a big impact. When pasted on a picture these can be a wonderful way to create early buzz about your book. The good news is all those pictures you collected can make a perfect backdrop to your book quotes. Use a simple editing program like GIMP and you're good to go. Just make sure you are using Creative Commons pictures. No one wants their work stolen.

4. Fashion
Your characters don't run around naked all the time (unless you write erotica, and then maybe they do). Most of the time your character will be wearing clothes and sometimes they can be a really important part of the story. So go crazy and buy your main character a virtual closet. Collect pictures of all the outfits that are perfect for him or her.

How do I market this?
This is perfect for anyone writing a series. Share your character's closet with your readers and then invite them to come up with their own version of your MC's perfect outfit. For the prize, you agree to write in the winner's choice into the next novel with a shout out in the acknowledgements. Not only do your fans get to engage with you, but they will help you keep your character dressed to the nines.

5. Extra content
Sometimes all you need to get those creative juices flowing is to write something that isn't a part of your novel. It can be a scene that happens "off camera", a scene from an alternate POV, or even something that happens before your novel starts. It can be anything really. The key is that it won't be going in your novel so the pressure is off.

How do I market this?
This one is a no-brainer. Readers love bonus content. You can share these on your website or newsletter. You can also use them as rewards. For example, tell your readers than when you hit X number of reviews on Amazon (or any retailer) you'll post a bonus scene on your website. The more scenes you have written, the more mini-goals you can set. It's a win-win since fans get more of the book they love and you get more reviews to help your sales numbers.

There's nothing wrong with taking a break from your work. Next time you need to step away from the words, consider one of these procrastination exercises to get back on track and put you ahead of the game when it comes time to market your book. Happy procrastinating!

What's your favorite way to procrastinate when you're in the midst of a project? Share your tips below and let's brainstorm ways you can make them work for your marketing plan.