Allow your Inner Critic (I.C.)
to squeeze beside you in your desk chair and hog the right armrest.
Reread what you wrote
yesterday. Listen to the I.C.’s eyeballs as they roll with condescension and contempt.
Listen to and believe the I.C. when she utters the following comments:
That last page (paragraph, sentence, word, font) sucked olives!
You're an embarrassment to all middle grade writers and readers!
How on EARTH did you ever get published writing this kind of diaper residue?
I mean, REALLY.
You will NEVER complete a middle grade novel again.
You will NEVER come up with a good idea for a middle grade novel again.
You. Will. Never. PERIOD.
Attempt to revise. Listen to the I.C. yawn. (Oh, man! The ultimate insult! Your work no only sucks, it BORES!)
Allow the I.C. to hog both armrests. She's in total control now.
Worry what your agent will think of your book.
Worry what your editor will think of your book.
And let's not forget Sales, Marketing, and Publicity.
Worry what reviewers will say about your book.
Throw in anxiety about librarians, teachers, parents, bloggers and - - oh yeah! - -
And your mom. She used to be SO proud. Now she says things like: "Are you working on anything new these days?"
Fret that she'll die before you publish another book.
Fret that you will die before you publish another book.
Or if you do (write another book, not die) you'll sell so few copies that it will go O.P. in about twenty minutes and you'll have to buy up all the remainders.
And they'll sit in unopened boxes, stacked in a damp corner of your garage, for the next 25 years, allowing brazen, burly rats the opportunity to gnaw their way through the cardboard and into the books' yellowing pages, where they (the rats, not the pages) will make nests for their disease-carrying, wormy-white babies between the lines of your precious but hackneyed prose.
Worry that your editor will stop returning your phone calls. Or start bouncing
your emails. Or both.
And schools, libraries, bookstores, parent groups, etc., will cease to invite you to
speak at their events.
Causing your income to dry up.
And what little income you DO make, will go toward
feeding the 42 cats that now inhabit your house
because you: a.) have become
a crazy cat lady who goes out in public wearing feline pajamas and curlers in your hair; and b.) desperately need cats to
hunt the rats
that are spreading The Black Death in your garage - and beyond.
Snap out of it! Start over. Just write one page. One paragraph. One sentence.
You can do that, can’t you? Just. One. Sentence.
But what if that sentence
doesn’t hook the reader? What if it
doesn’t wow ‘em?
What if it isn’t
Maybe you should change
that adjective. And this verb here. Yes, that's better. Okay,
now write the second sentence.
Read both sentences out loud.
To the cat.
Think: That second
sentence is even worse than the first sentence!
Stare at the computer
screen. Be unable to write a third sentence until you get the first
two Just. Right.
Reread and revise again.
Check your email.
Check your Facebook status.
And your sales figures on Amazon.
Sonofahamster! Sales have
plummeted in the last ten minutes! You’d
busy writing that new book and selling it ASAP, otherwise everyone
in the world will
forget you’re a writer.
But first, fetch a snack.
Return to your desk. Discover the cat has confiscated your chair.
Print out a copy of those
first two sentences.
Take the copy and your notebook to a different location.
Perhaps the couch. What
with the cat and the I.C., that desk chair was way too crowded,
Wait – where’s your special
green pen? The I.C. insists you can’t
write without your SGP!
Spend ten minutes looking
for the SGP.
Find it. (Under the
cat.) Sonofasecondhamster! It’s out of ink! (The pen, not the
cat.) You simply cannot write with a black pen.
No-no. Must. Be. Green.
Find another green pen.
Copy those first two
sentences into your notebook.
Analyze and dislike your
Rip out the page, wad it
up, and throw it across the room into the trash.
Get up and retrieve the
Aim and throw it
again. Three more times. (Miss all three.)
The cat thinks you’ve
invented a new game. Play ‘Throw Little
Wads of Crinkly Paper All Over the Room So the Cat Can Chase Them Until He Gets
Try to ignore the I.C. when
she says: “You just wasted fifteen minutes playing with
the cat instead of
writing your novel – maiming at least a couple of trees in the
throwing away perfectly good paper. You are pathetic!”
Argue, “Well, the cat
doesn’t get enough exercise because I’m always too busy not
writing to play kitty games! And speaking of trees, just look at him! He’s so out of shape, he resembles a furry
Think the word ‘log’
Think that it rhymes with
all sorts of funny-sounding words, like frog, grog, hog, bog,
BLOG! You completely forgot you have a blog post due tomorrow
on PROJECT MAYHEM!
Be struck by a grand idea.
Ignore the I.C.’s
sputtering, indignant protests and noisy eye-rolling.
Push the I.C. out of your chair
and type up a list of everything thing you’ve done this
morning to encourage
Schedule the list to be
posted on PROJECT MAYHEM.
Pat yourself on the back.
Pat the cat, too. Count both as 'playtime'.
Worry about getting
Writer’s Block again tomorrow.
Break for lunch.