no writing

1)     Let your life get so busy with both the meaningful and meaningless that there is just no time for writing, even if you love it. In fact, don’t bother making time for any work – however creative and life-giving – apart from the work you get paid for or are obliged to do because of responsibilities to family and friends.

2)    Only ever write when you are struck by the sort of undeniable and irresistible inspiration that means you cannot NOT write. Never carry through with a project you were initially inspired by but are finding difficult to complete. And on no account should you ever intentionally set aside regular time dedicated to developing your writing, whether you feel like it or not, whether or not you like what you produce, but just because you value the process and the act itself.

3)      Make sure, if you ever do try to write, that you jump to editing so quickly that any creativity completely withers in the light of your pedantic self-criticism.

4)      Try to stay attached to screens and the internet as much as possible – especially to both at once in that bottomless time-pit, social media – so that your computer becomes a place not to compose and create, but only to while away many hours completely unproductively. However, if you are tempted to write on your computer, always keep facebook and email open too so that you can instantly click on anything new that pops up and urgently requires your attention.

5)      Remember that many people (or some, or a few – does it really matter how many?!) will not like what you write, and your fragile ego could not handle that, so the safest course of action is simply not to write anything in the first place. Let thoughts and fears such as this fuel your already fierce inner critic, in order to completely shut yourself down.

6)      If you write on a blog, get obsessed with unessential details like photos and titles and trying to be hugely original.

7)      Confuse your motivations for writing, so that you forget that it gives you life and helps keep  you sane (pathetic  motivations, after all!) and instead focus only on your ego’s need for praise,  reassurance and millions of avid followers. Remember the past agony of waiting around to see if and how anyone will respond to a piece you have written? This is the inevitable, torturous and futile fate of any future attempt, so just give up right now and instead of writing anything new devote your time to reading glowing comments following (some of) your past posts…. and your own past posts.

8)      Frequently and unfavourably compare your writing to that of others, preferably very famous, experienced and successful others, in order to persuade yourself that what you have to offer is of no value to the world. Whatever you do, never read others’ work simply to appreciate it, learn from it, bask in the beauty of well-crafted and authentic expression, and thus be inspired to practice and hone your own craft. Never.

9)      Value the finished product over the process, certainty about where your writing is headed above questions that lead to unexpected places, and perfection at every stage over vulnerability and authenticity. Asking trusted friends and fellow writers for feedback is not a good idea as this leads to exactly what you are trying to avoid: vulnerability, questions, an extended process and (*shudder*) the potential for fresh perspective.

10)   Convince yourself that anything you consider writing about is a) self-centered and self-indulgent, b) too intimate and vulnerable, or c) predictable and irrelevant. In this manner you will gradually succeed in shutting down your own authentic voice, until one day even ideas regarding what to write about will utterly dry up. Congratulations.




8 Responses

    • Thanks, Zoe, for your best wishes, and for this great article (both of which didn’t get sent to me for some reason; I’m only just seeing them). I love it! I remember hearing a radio programme about this same thing some years ago and finding it significant and helpful, so it’s great to read a whole article about it. Love to you in Winnipeg! X Rachael

  1. All so true. I’ve spent a year writing short fiction to avoid starting a long novel. A competition kick- started me and now I have the first chapter done and the beginning of the second to make a complete story. I can now extend the new piece without a word count limit and add it to the novel. Funny how a little thing will halt you in your tracks but I guess all this time my brain was chugging away behind scenes solving problems to do with the novel
    Kind Regards from Down Under, where we write while you sleep!

    • Deryn, at least you wrote SOMETHING! 🙂
      Thanks for reading and commenting, and all the best with your novel.

    • Thanks Jacq! What a wonderful idea to have a group that supports its members in their writing. All the best and thanks for reading and commenting!

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