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Posts tagged ‘time management’

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, making time to write

It’s the first Monday of the month (or the first Sunday if you’re in the northern hemisphere). You’re invited to ask writing-related questions here for me to answer. Lots of talented writers read and comment on this blog and your thoughts and writing experiences may help others.

Questions posted ahead of time will be answered during Monday October 1.

Sometimes the questions go past Monday into the week, and that’s okay too.

To kick things off, here’s a question I get asked a lot – how do you find time to write?

The short answer is, you MAKE time. Nobody has all the time they need to write. If you wait for the perfect moment, you’ll probably never start.

We find time for the things we really want to do. Not what we should do, or dream of doing – but the stuff that burns inside us, keeps us awake at night, and won’t give us any mental peace.

If that’s writing, then you’ll get up an hour earlier, or stay up later, skip a few TV shows, write in your lunch hour…you’ll make the time. You’ll plot in your head while waiting at the bank or post office, and create characters while you’re stuck at red lights.

Do you want to write, or do you simply like the idea of being a writer?

IMO it’s fine to write for your own pleasure, or to share stories with family and friends. Albert Facey wrote his life story for his family. It only came to a publisher’s attention when they took the manuscript to Fremantle Arts Press to be printed and bound. They published the book and it became the Australian classic, A Fortunate Life, later filmed for television.

Few memoirs do as well unless they have strong universal appeal.  But writing to give people pleasure, or for the joy of putting words together is a worthwhile end in itself, as is dabbling in painting or throwing pots. It’s only lately that the word “amateur” has become a put-down. It comes from the Greek for a lover of something. An amateur writer writes for love of the craft.

Either way, you’re a writer if you write. And you’ll make the time because you can’t not write. That’s just how it is.

Got a question related to writing? Feel free to ask me here, or make a comment.

Valerie

http://www.valerieparv.com

on Twitter @valerieparv

and Facebook

Now writing short fiction for Living magazine http://www.livingmagazine.com.au

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