I subscribe to TheBookDesigner blog because I once entertained the idea of designing my own book covers. There’s just one wee problem. In the process of selecting images and putting them together, I discovered I don’t have an eye for design.
Even if I borrow the idea exactly as it is, it still looks home made…or at least, home made by me.
Yet I love to fiddle with colors and images. Even if the end result looks childish and unprofessional, I do it for my own pleasure. Or sometimes, I do it for the pleasure of pure procrastination. It’s kind of like the first draft. Nobody but me sees the mess. Plus, when I design stuff on the computer, there’s no cleanup and I don’t have to whitewash my flannel walls with a new coat of paint.
So when the latest TheBookDesigner post showed up in my mailbox, I was thrilled to discover three new tips on finding and using images.
Photopin.com is advertised as free photos for bloggers and creatives. It’s simple, easy, straightforward. It pulls data from Flickr and you can filter images based on the Creative Commons licensing.
If you don’t have image editing software like Photoshop, TheBookDesigner recommends FreeOnlinePhotoEditor.com. It’s fun, you can fiddle till you’ve procrastinated the day away.
Lastly, there’s Google images which now has a cool little camera in the search bar to help you search for images using other images. For years I’ve had the image of a grumpy creature holding a coffee cup on my computer desktop. On a poor-pitiful-me day, I pulled it from the internet and since then, have never been able to locate the source. Now, I’ve uploaded the image and Google supplied me with links so I can locate and track the owner. Apparently it’s a popular image. If anyone knows of the owner, please email me at .
Do you love images and design and color? Or do you use them like I do, a procrastination technique masked to look like work? And what color(s) are the walls in your house?
UPDATED: There’s a new design site out there and I’m hearing some wonderful things about it! Canva’s Free Stock Photos. Just register on their site like you do with all of the other image sites, and you have access to not only images, but a whole host of design tools too. No more need for Photoshop!
My good friend Vicki Batman, who writes funny and fabulous romantic comedy short stories and novels, convinced me to spend the day with the lovely gals at the Plotting Princesses website.
The Plotting Princesses are a group of north Texas romance authors who get together and brainstorm their plots. How cool is that? On their website, they talk about books, writing, interrogate interview guests authors, and more. Check it out.
I once directed my husband to my sister’s house. We didn’t have her address and my husband had never been to her house.
“That looks familiar. Turn left here. Oh, I’m pretty sure we passed the subway, went right, then crossed through the light…”
We ended up on the south-west side of the city instead of the north-east side.
My husband, who by then should have known better than to listen to my directions—I turn right when I should turn left and vice versa—finally stopped at a pay phone. Remember those?! My sister gave him the street address and directions. With those in hand and without getting lost, he drove right to her house.
To this day, my husband still listens to my directions. Trust is such a wonderful thing.
I come by my lack of direction skills honestly. Every year, when my Dad took us on vacation, he drove through Calgary on his way to Penticton. Back then, there was only one route through the city. It only changed if there was construction and a detour.
And yet every year, my Dad got lost. We’d end up in one of the residential sections, until my Mom took navigational control and directed Dad back to the main highway and out of the city.
These days, when I want to go somewhere I’m unfamiliar with, I do the following:
1. Address in hand, I head for Google Maps.
2. Locate my destination, preplan my route, then study the surrounding streets in case I mess up.
3. Print off the map, highlight the route, and write down the instructions.
5. Quiz my guys. Any traffic circles? Oops, need to find an alternate route because traffic circles confuse me. According to my mom, they confused my dad, too. Overpasses, merging lanes, or anything else out of the norm? Check, check, check.
When it comes to writing, I need a road map, too. I’m a panster at heart. I love to sit down and bang out the story. But by the time I type THE END, I’ve taken so many detours, the story is lost in a muddle of side trips. Even worse, the story has no structure.
These days, I do some extra planning. I have the end in sight and a general map of the story to guide me. Before writing a scene, I preplan it, using colored sticky notes for the different characters. I can immediately recognize when I’ve taken a wrong turn and I can fix it before I end up writing a totally different book than the one I started to write.
Or before I end up writing garbage.
By the time I type THE END, I’m happy because the structure is solid and I know the edit stage is going to be manageable.
So do you know your left hand from your right hand? Are you directionally challenged like I am? Or can you navigate on the road as easily as you can navigate your way through your story?
These days, I’m meeting my writing goals, but it wasn’t always so. You see, I’m a procrastinator at heart and when the writing gets tough, I go do something else.
1. I loathe shopping for clothes and avoid it until my slippers are in tatters and my t-shirts are frayed at the edges. As long as I’m writing, who cares? But at the first sign of a stubborn scene, I head for the stores and Shop-Till-I-Drop.
To prevent this escape, put all debit cards, credit cards, and cash in a glass of water and stick it in the freezer. If you chose to shop instead of write, you’ll have to watch the ice melt before you can access your cards or soggy cash. This may take hours. In fact, if you use a big enough glass, it could take all day. Before the day is up, you’ll be bored by the melting ice and dying to get back to that stubborn scene.
2. Have you ever struggled with a messy first draft, found yourself mesmerized by the dust particles floating in the sunshine, and discovered it’s the perfect time to dust, vacuum, and wash everything in the house? You even have the energy to move all the furniture so you don’t leave a single speck of dust behind. And by the time you’re done, you’re delighted with your dust free house and too tired to resume work on your manuscript.
Except…the next morning, you sit down in front of the computer, glance out the window, and notice those dust particles are STILL floating in the air.
Next time you get the urge to banish the dust from your house, save yourself the back breaking work of moving furniture and keep your butt on your chair. If you must, stare at those dust particles. Watch how they dance in the sunshine streaming through your dirty window. Then ignore them because let’s face it. Dust particles win the housekeeping war every single time. In the long run, you’ll be further ahead if you tackle the messy first draft instead of the mess in your house.
Now, let me tell you about the ULTIMATE PROCRASTINATOR INHIBITOR, my new secret weapon to keep my butt on chair and my fingers moving across the keyboard.
I’ve started goal setting with my eldest son. It turns out the overwhelming guilt of motherhood helps me produce words because I know if I slack off, my poor example gives my son permission to slack, too. Simple, isn’t it?
So what are your favorite procrastination techniques? And how do you keep yourself from procrastinating in the first place?