Today debut crime writer Margaret Kirk is joining me for Crime Writers In Cafes Procrastinating. As the title suggests, this feature is all about the lengths writers go to procrastinate when they should be writing, and how they (eventually) manage to win against the temptation of the path of procrastination to finish their books.
Ready for a grilling about her procrastination habits is Margaret Kirk whose debut crime novel – SHADOW MAN – is out now.
Welcome Margaret! Tell me a bit about SHADOW MAN…
Shadow Man, my debut novel, is a police procedural set in Inverness and the Highlands. The winner of the Good Housekeeping First Novel competition in 2016, it introduces Lukas Mahler, a half-Scots, half-German ex-Met DI, and is the first in a planned series.
How long did it take to write?
Well, when I won the competition (June 2016) I really only had about 25,000 decent words written. I then had a bit of a scramble to get it finished and sent off to Orion, which took another six months. Not too bad, considering I was in a state of shock for at least a month after finding out I’d won!
What’s your favourite writing/procrastination spot – home, café, bar, other?
I have a lovely writing shed (dubbed ‘The Murder Room’) in our garden, where I should theoretically be able to shut out the world and get writing. But I’ve also got two demanding cats who wander in and out, and a really comfy day bed in there, so…
What’s your writing process – do you jump straight in, or plan and plot first?
I plan quite carefully. I set up a word document called ‘Chapter Plan’ and do a one or two-sentence synopsis for each chapter, which I then add to/amend as I go. And I always write the synopsis for the book first – it really concentrates the mind and shows me where the book is going. And it alerts me to any potential plot holes I need to look out for.
When you’re writing, do you find you procrastinate more at the beginning, middle or end of the draft, or equally across all three?
Probably in the middle. There’s a lot of momentum that carries me through the first third, then as the plot becomes more complex, I start fretting about whether I’m going in the right direction etc. I gradually feel my way through and start gathering speed again for the finale!
Do you prefer first drafts or edits (and why)?
I think edits, really, because there’s that sense that you’re working with what you have to make something better, and that’s always easier than pulling words out of thin air and sticking them down on a page. The shape of what the book should be starts to feel a little closer at the edits stage.
When you’re procrastinating, what’s the activity you turn to most?
Cat-cuddling. Finding a new must-read series and absolutely bingeing on it, telling myself it’s all in the name of research. Sort of…and afternoon tea is a huge favourite!
When you’re writing what’s your drink and snack of choice?
Coffee and chocolate – basically, I run on caffeine. But in an attempt to combat the onset of writers’ posterior, I try to severely limit the chocolate, and make sure I get at least 30 minutes’ exercise every day. Honest…
And how do you celebrate the completion of the book (you winning against procrastination)?
…is celebrated either with Prosecco or a nice Scottish gin (Shetland Reel or Rock Rose) and Fevertree tonic. Cheers!
Huge thanks to Margaret for letting me quiz her about all things procrastination.
Be sure to check out her debut novel – SHADOW MAN. And keep up to date with all her news via social media at:
Click on the book cover below to view SHADOW MAN on Amazon UK…