Writing news & advice
Last Tuesday, I was at Lisa L. Hannett’s blog doing some Tuesday Therapy.
Tuesdays, eh? Pretty interesting days.
Speaking of therapy, I’ve accidentally come across some brilliant advice lately, in one of those ‘synchronicity’ kinda ways where the universe kinda pokes a hole into your life and fills it up with exactly what you’ve been needing even if you haven’t realised you’ve been needing it. Here’s some:
First, Good and Bad Procrastination
Says Paul Graham in the above article, “Most people who write about procrastination write about how to cure it. But this is, strictly speaking, impossible. There are an infinite number of things you could be doing. No matter what you work on, you’re not working on everything else. So the question is not how to avoid procrastination, but how to procrastinate well.
There are three variants of procrastination, depending on what you do instead of working on something: you could work on (a) nothing, (b) something less important, or (c) something more important. That last type, I’d argue, is good procrastination.”
Next, & linked from above, Richard Hamming on You and Your Research
Hamming says, “In order to get at you individually, I must talk in the first person. I have to get you to drop modesty and say to yourself, “Yes, I would like to do first-class work.” Our society frowns on people who set out to do really good work. You’re not supposed to; luck is supposed to descend on you and you do great things by chance. Well, that’s a kind of dumb thing to say. I say, why shouldn’t you set out to do something significant. You don’t have to tell other people, but shouldn’t you say to yourself, “Yes, I would like to do something significant.””
And then, Gretchen Rubin from The Happiness Project on Problem with Procrastination? Try This: Do Nothing.
Rubin says, “This rule was inspired by the habits of writer Raymond Chandler. Chandler set aside at least four hours each day for writing; he didn’t force himself to write, but he didn’t let himself do anything else. He wouldn’t let himself read, write letters, write checks—nothing. He summed up: “Two very simple rules, a. you don’t have to write. b. you can’t do anything else. The rest comes of itself.””
Also some reassuring words from successful writer Jeff Vandermeer: Panic Attack: Understanding your Work Cycles.
“So I think I’m only just beginning to see the complete outline of my long-term work cycle, obscured in part by the pattern of publication, not creation, of my prior novels. It may seem odd to not have recognized this, considering I’m 43 and been writing for three decades, but sometimes you need to take a step back to really see everything clearly.”
Finally, a comment from Ira Glass for beginner writers: Ira Glass on Storytelling.
It’s a video, so I can only paraphrase: when you begin, your taste is greater than your ability. As you practice, you close that gap. And I think it’s true, a lot of people must give up in that first bit when your story just isn’t as good as the story you had in your head when you started. I sure struggled with that. Still do, but not in the same way.
‘Nuff advice for the day, eh?!