So…I haven’t been writing much recently. My children’s books are a major pain in the proverbials. I know I want to write them but I have a real problem with getting my bum on the seat. (It sounds like a good idea. I get a bit excited. And then my feet won’t actually walk me to the computer.)
When my feet do obey me and I manage to make it to the computer, I have started to notice something rather disturbing: whenever I sit down to write, I hear a voice murmuring, “I can’t do it, I can’t do it, I can’t do it”. Like some sort of evil mantra.
It’s very subtle. So subtle I hardly heard it before. But it was there. And now, for some reason, I can hear it loud and clear.
No wonder I’ve had problems getting my bum on the seat! I need to ‘apply the bum glue’, as novelist Vanessa Hatley-Owen puts it.
Trouble is, I can’t find bum glue that lasts longer than 20 seconds (I write something, hear my mantra, and give up.)
I’ve noticed another odd thing too. I’ve written three picture books so far and all have been rejected by the literary agents I’ve sent them to. No biggie there. It’s par for the course. But the worrying thing is that when I sent them off, I kind of knew they weren’t 100% right. (Not knowing what was wrong precisely, I sent them anyway.)
Now I think I’ve figured out what was missing…
In my desire to be a published author, I started putting pressure on myself. I started writing with one eye on the end result and one eye on the reaction of literary agents and publishers.
In other words, it all got a bit SERIOUS and HEAVY. And if there’s one thing you don’t want when you’re trying to write humorous children’s books, it’s feeling serious and heavy!
I liked writing (once I got down to it), but it didn’t excite me. It didn’t thrill me. And often it felt like a chore.
I began to think I wasn’t a writer after all.
But then a funny thing happened a few days ago. I was so pissed off with the fact that I wasn’t a writer after all, that I started to think, “Well f*** it then”. And that was rather liberating. With my new f*** it attitude, I then had a strange new thought. What if I wrote something just for me? What if I wrote something completely for my own amusement, never to be seen by anyone else? With all inhibitions removed, what would I write? Hmmm…
So I sat down at the computer. I put my fingers on the keyboard and decided that I would let them type whatever they wanted and I wouldn’t stop them, no matter how ‘silly’ or ‘bad’ the writing was.
And then a REALLY weird thing happened.
I wrote a sentence. And then I paused and wondered what my fingers would do next. They typed another sentence. And it made me smile. So I carried on. Every time I didn’t know what would happen next in the story I chilled out, relaxed, and let my fingers say whatever they wanted. Even if what came out was ‘ridiculous’.
In other words, I got out of my way.
And before I knew it, I had written two chapters! And, most unbelievably of all, I had had FUN doing it! The things my fingertips wrote made me giggle. I smiled. I nodded. I even snorted into my mug of tea at certain points. It felt good. REALLY good. (Darn it, I was in danger of feeling excited!).
At the time it felt like I had tapped into some mysterious, ancient secret. But of course, looking back on it, it’s mind-blowingingly obvious.
Writing is meant to be FUN!
If it’s not, you’re not likely to wake up each morning and race to the computer with a big grin on your face, are you?
In my urgency to be a ‘success’, I had forgotten the Number One Law of how to apply the bum glue.
I mean, if it’s not fun, why in the name of wombats, are we doing it?!
As I was in the midst of this breakthrough, an email plopped into my inbox from Eli Trier who writes a brilliant blog called The Gratitude Project. Guess what her post was about? Yep – how she overcame her ‘book writing barrier’ by having one stunning, never-thought-of-before thought; ‘what would I write, if I was writing it just for me?’ (You can read her post here: Write a book…even if it’s just for yourself).
So this is what I’m now doing. I’m writing my fourth children’s book. But this time I’m writing it just for me. And in the process, I’ve stumbled upon the vital missing ingredient…duh, it’s supposed to be FUN, wombat!!