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Posts tagged ‘April Fool’

First Monday mentoring for April – 4 ways good writers avoid fooling themselves

Yesterday I discovered I’d been driving an unregistered car for who knows how long. I hadn’t overlooked the paperwork. My car was registered until the middle of this year. Unfortunately, the car registry computer had been told otherwise. A missed key stroke or other error had fooled it into thinking my license plates had been handed back to an office in Sydney, five hours’ drive away.

The only solution was for me to take my car to the nearest registry and have them physically verify that the plates were still on my car. They did, and all was well, but to sort the problem out, I had to risk driving unregistered.

I don’t usually catastrophise but even my positive outlook was shaken by all the things that could have gone wrong.

The first was that I could have delayed opening the letter, worried it contained a traffic fine I’d been unaware of incurring. Or I could have been so confident my registration was OK I’d left the letter for later.

Luckily, I didn’t fool myself into leaving the letter untouched. I took immediate action and all was well.
I realized that the habit of not fooling myself works with writing as well. I’d dodged the first two of the ways many writers fool themselves. Check to see if you recognize any of them.

1. I can write it tomorrow.

None of us is guaranteed another breath, far less another day. This isn’t gloom and doom; it’s simply a reality check. Even if you do live to tomorrow, and I pray you will, tomorrow brings its own issues. You could spend half a day fixing a problem you hadn’t expected, like me with my car. There went the precious hours I’d planned to spend writing. Luckily I’d kept my bargain with myself and written the day before, and the one before that. Losing a couple of hours wasn’t a disaster, but what if today had been the only day I’d set aside to enter a competition or meet a deadline?
Good writers don’t put off writing. They write today and every other working day, even if it’s only a couple of sentences.

You may fool others, but never yourself

You may fool others, but never yourself

2. Someone else has already written my story.

They may have written about the same events, but they haven’t written “your” story. A very dear friend talked a lot about a story she wanted to write about what she called the battle of Sydney, when Japanese mini submarines invaded Sydney Harbour. Working for ABC Radio, she’d had a box seat to see the events of that night unfold. Her perspective was unique; her writing style very much her own. Yet she passed away with the book unwritten for a whole stack of reasons, I suspect mostly 1. and 2. here.
Good writers tell their own stories in their own way.

3. I don’t have time to write.

If we let excuses make the running, the joke is definitely on us. Nobody ever has all the time they need to write. In my book, The Idea Factory, I supply a long list of reasons not to write, from the weather to kids being home on holidays, to broken technology (there’s still paper and pen) to other demands on our time. There will always be reasons not to write. Writing is work. I tell others that I’m working rather than writing, because we’re hard wired to respect work. Writing is often seen as a hobby, something to be picked up or put down on a whim. Wrong, so wrong.
If you have a love affair with words, and stories you long to tell, you make time to write them. Good writers don’t fool themselves with excuses.

4. I’m not good enough to write this.

This is the saddest April fool’s joke of them all. Someone in your life – perhaps even you – made you think that you don’t have what it takes to be a writer. The real joke is that nobody knows what makes a writer.

You may be the worst writer in the whole world, although I doubt that, but how will you know what you can achieve until you try? No writer thinks they’re good enough, even those most of us regard as the greats. In my career, I’ve found the opposite to be true – the writers most strongly plagued by self doubt are usually those whose words make the sweetest reading. The story in your head is shining, perfect gold, but turns into base metal as soon as you start to write. Accept this as the way things are. Be glad of your fears because all the best writers have them.
Write your story in spite of your fears. Do the best you can at the time.

Now, over to you.

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Do you resist these April fool’s jokes? Can you think of other ways writers might fool themselves? Share your thoughts in the comments box below. It’s moderated to avoid spam, but you can have your post appear right away by clicking on “sign me up” at right. I don’t share your details with anyone.

Happy writing,

Valerie

http://www.valerieparv.com
on Twitter @ValerieParv and Facebook
Order Valerie’s Beacons’ book, Birthright, at http://tinyurl.com/mxtmbx6
Check out Valerie’s online course, Free the Writer in You
at http://valerieparv.com/course.html

First Monday Mentoring for writers – April 1st, no fooling

It’s that time again, the first Monday of the month when I open this blog to questions on anything to do with writing, the writing life and getting published in general. Feel free to ask me anything using the comments option below.

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Seeing that the first Monday of April falls on April Fool’s Day, I started to think of how writers fool ourselves about our writing and our careers. Do any of these sound familiar:

I don’t need to write anything down.
I’ll remember the idea in the morning.

I can hear some of you screaming, “Nooooooooo!” from here. The brainwaves we produce right before we fall asleep are perfect for generating new ideas. Unfortunately, they’re also totally unsuited to storing short-term memories. See the pattern? We’ll have some of our best ideas, but there’s almost no chance we’ll remember them for very long. Keep a pad or recording device on your bedside to capture your inspiration.

I’ll just go online for a few minutes, then start writing.

If you believe this, there’s a really nice bridge across Sydney Harbour I can sell you. Write first, then go play online. Even if you swear by your sainted mother that it’s for research, write first. Leave gaps for stuff you need to look up, and fill them in later. But write first.

I’ll write as soon as I’m inspired

Real writers don’t write when they’re inspired; they get inspired by the act of writing. If you’re not sure what you want to write about, start anyway. Write about not writing. Write about your characters or the ones that you would write about if you had an idea. When you let yourself write rubbish, magic happens. Gradually you start writing non-rubbish, and soon you’re away.

Playing one game of Solitaire
will warm me up to write

That bridge is still for sale. I found it’s perfectly possible to play Solitaire until two in the morning until I zapped every version of the game off all my computers. Just as there’s no such thing as eating “one Pringle” there is no such thing as “one game of Solitaire” (or Bejewelled, or Words with Friends, or whatever is the current time suck)
Writing gets you warmed up for writing.

What’s your personal April Fool’s problem? How do you deal with it?

Valerie
http://www.valerieparv.com

on Twitter @ValerieParv and Facebook

Read some reviews of Valerie’s latest book, Birthright at http://www.valerieparv.com/birthright.html

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