You snooze, you lose!

I have heard stories of writers compelled to write and somehow, seemingly through the use of magic, they are able to conjure up time where it doesn’t seem to exist i.e in between working a full-time job, looking after a family/pets, looking after yourself, navigating through an increasingly busy modern life and not forgetting sleep. People have to sleep. I always wondered how this magic works. How do they find the motivation to make this extra time?

I’ve mentioned before that Elmore Leonard used to get up at 5 and write for 2 hours before going to work.  While this is admirable, the thought of doing this fills me with dread and given the fact I also have to ready two small children for school/nursery before I leave for work just before 8, this is not really possible for me anyway.  I’m not being negative or procrastinating, it’s just the way it is.  I do have a little bit of good news to share though.

I recently discovered a motivational speaker called Mel Robbins on YouTube.  I liked what she had to say so I downloaded her book from Amazon – Stop Saying You’re Fine: Discover A More Powerful You.  As with most self-help advice, it offers some nuggets that really should be common sense.  The parts that stood out the most were:

1)  Stop pressing snooze on your alarm clock.  Get up and start the day.  

She says by doing this, you are using your “activation energy.”  The idea (originally thought of by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi) is that you don’t want to get up but if you make yourself, you are pushing through your limits and you’ll be able to use the extra say 30 minutes to do something else.  I have been doing this for 5 days.  It was difficult at first but now I’m springing out of bed and using the quiet time (before the kids get up) to write or edit.  Bonus! I would have been hitting snooze 2 or 3 times normally.  At even just 30 minutes per weekday, I’m gaining two and a half hours to write.

2)  Do the things you don’t want to do to get what you want

Mel says that if we don’t act on our ideas or impulses within 5 seconds, they disappear.  By this she means, if you have an idea or impulse and you don’t do something with it straight away, you will most likely talk yourself out of it.  I have to admit to doing this sometimes.  Mundane tasks end up taking priority and reducing the amount of time available for more enjoyable pursuits such as writing or playing guitar.  She says if you can start pushing through resistance to act on smaller impulses, you will build up confidence to being able to push through resistance to bigger change – change that will benefit your life.  My first step was not pressing snooze but I have noticed myself pushing through with smaller things throughout the day as well.

I would definitely recommend checking Mel out, either via YouTube or her book.  I for one will definitely be carrying on with this way of thinking/acting.

What do I have to lose? Nothing.  What do I have to gain? Everything!

Di 🙂


Inspiration to write

I bulk read the last few editions of Writing Magazine recently and it has charged my enthusiasm for writing.  I have singled out a few bits and bobs that I thought I would share.  After all, who doesn’t need a little more inspiration?

Ideas – Top Tips (Adrian Magson)

  • Don’t try forcing an idea into something it’s not.  Allow it to emerge at its own pace
  • Make notes, no matter how vague.  This is the beginning of writing a story

Sometimes the simplest advice is the best.  I think I have been guilty of the first one in the past.  With regards to notes, I know I don’t make enough.  I have placed a notebook in my handbag and I vow to write something, even just one observation every day.  No more ostrich impressions from me.

No time to write?

James McCreet says he hears lots of excuses from his students about why they have no time to write – “Not enough time”, “got to pick kids up from school”, “it was my birthday” etc.

I must admit, I have used the general “not enough time” excuse on more than one occasion.  I have since realised, I just have to get better at managing my time.  I have started planning for my writing using a calendar to schedule my time.  However, when unexpected things pop up and the calendar can’t be strictly adhered to, what then?

James gave the following examples of famous authors who found the time to write, because they had to write.

  • Elmore Leonard got up at 5 a.m and wrote for 2 hours before going to work.
  • George Orwell wrote in hospital until the nurses put his arm in a cast to stop him
  • The Marquis de Sade wrote in prison on a huge piece of toilet roll that he left behind a loose stone.

As I don’t plan on going to prison or hospital any time soon, I think Elmore could become my new role model.

Lastly, my new favourite acronym:


Michael Allen mentions Scott William Carter’s WIBBOW test in his column, Grumpy Old Bookman.  WIBBOW encourages the writer to ask the question – Would I Be Better Off Writing?

Will I benefit from watching this TV programme or WIBBOW?

Should I have some alcohol or WIBBOW?

I’m guessing on most occasions from now on, the answer will be yes.

Should I sleep or WIBBOW like Elmore Leonard between 5 a.m and 7 a.m?

Time will tell!

Finding inspiration wherever you are

I’ve read articles and letter pages before, in which the question – Where do you get your ideas from? – is asked to a published writer. It’s as if people expect that they are able to pluck them from an ideas tree or an idea for a story will drop out of the sky and land at their feet.  The truth is, ideas are everywhere.  I don’t particularly like my job most days but I have found that working in a busy office with a variety of people provides ideas and inspiration for short stories.  Rather than grumbling inwardly about the daily commute, the mind-numbing boredom I feel at doing tedious tasks, the idiotic office politics and wishing that I was at home writing (ok, I still do that), I take the chance to observe whenever I can.  Throughout my time in this job, I have come across people with big personalities.  I have heard some stories that are stranger than fiction too and yes, I have used this as inspiration.  I always take care to change names and situations to protect the guilty.

So, where do you get your ideas from?

Di 🙂