Tag Archives: committing

Can I really make you write?

I want to share with you a story about something that happened to me this morning as I came back from doing my grocery shopping. I had on my shopping list to buy  jam but didn’t buy it from the supermarket on purpose as I wanted to buy home made jam. So I headed for a lady in my village who used to leave her jams and preserves outside her door in a little wooden hut with a honesty jar for people to pay their due. I wanted to buy jar from her but noticed the whole hut had vanished. I knocked on her door.

I asked her what happened and she explained why she had taken it away. We got chatting, as one does, and she asked me what I was up to these days. We hadn’t seen each other in a while. I told her I was now running writer’s workshops for people who want to write books.

I said to her that not all books had a lot of words in them and had she considered writing a book of her recipes for her jams. I told her it could be good for her business. She told me  that she might one day write a book before she died but not before. It was clearly not on her list of things to do. She immediately added that she hated writing with a passion. I told her I wasn’t that good myself and even had a fail as a predictive mark for my GCSEs in English (well it was in France so it was French, but you get the idea) and it was through sheer hard work that I managed to get a C. So not exactly that good at writing myself in school. But could it have had to do with the way it was taught? I didn’t particularly enjoy having to study French literature. And it wasn’t really geared towards nurturing my creative writing skills. If anything it would have stifled them.

I then went on to say that  she could write her book of recipes one recipe at a time, on sticky notes, as she was making her jams. And then all she needed to do was stick them in a notepad and wait until she had enough to make a book. I asked her how many recipes she had. She said at least a hundred. All in her head. I said, get them out even for your own sake. You could get one book printed only for you. I can help you with that. If you write one recipe per day as you make your jams, in five to six months you will have them all down on paper.

She said “Funny you should say that, just before Christmas I said to myself I would like to write down my recipes.” There you go. She left saying that she was definitely going to give it a try and she had completely forgotten how much she hated writing and how she would only write a book on her death bed. I, on the other hand, was thinking that without much effort she would have her book ready by the summer, without even realising it. And then she added “I might just do it to annoy (so and so) and show them I wrote a book”. Why not? After all, you just have to find the motivation.

This is how dangerous it is to talk to me about your vague idea about writing a book or even about the fact that you will never write a book. I know I can make almost anyone write.

My jam lady was the least likely candidate to write a book… and when I left her she smiled and said “I am going to give it a try”. So do you think “I can make you write” now?

To your creativity

Ange

New Year resolutions: how to make them work

How many of us have made New Year resolutions? Or decided on looking back at the end of the year that we wished we had done this or that and not let time slip and nothing happened?

Here are a few pointers to make your new year resolutions (whatever you call them) work:

  1. Make them specific: don’t say “I want to write my novel this year”, say “I commit to writing one page per day”
  2. Break them into small steps: this may seem very similar to point nb 1 but you could say “I commit to writing 400 pages to complete my novel” which is specific but you could end up doing nothing because it is far too overwhelming. Committing to four pages a day is more reasonable.
  3. Break them into realistic steps: Even after you have broken down your goal into small steps, If you have a life packed to the brim, four pages a day might still be impossible. So work on the goal so it is actually achievable. Four pages a day might work for me, but what would work for you could be twenty pages per week-end. Or your first step might be to actually declutter your life so you have more time to write and that might involve learning to say no. Don’t run before you can walk. If that is the case, learn to say no. When you have mastered the art of saying no gracefully (that can take time), assess if that has created the space for you to commit to your writing. Then assess how you can break down the time into regular writing slots and commit to them. This might take six months. If you have a baby, it might take more. If you measure your success by something like a finished book, you will feel like a failure. But if you measure your success by a detailed plan of how to get from A to B, then even if there is supposedly nothing to show for it, you will have made progress as long as you can tick the small steps leading up to your big dream.
  4. Tie up a time schedule to your steps: if you don’t, you might find that you constantly let others things come first. Realise that your dreams and aspirations have to be on the top of your priority list. With things such a writing, especially if you have a day job, are a parent or have lots of friends, there will always be something more important. Not to mention that you might create something more important because of your own inner critic. So commit. Have a calendar on the wall and plan your week so you can achieve your small goals. Don’t be rigid but be committed.
  5. Make sure you reward yourself with something small when you reach one of your targets or goals. Have a nice walk in fresh air. Get that special latte. Watch your favourite TV programme or listen to some music.

For example, I have committed to writing three blogs per week for the month of January. It’s a little challenge I have set for myself. So here is the first one. Let’s see if I can keep the challenge.

The best to your creativity and your new year resolutions

Ange de Lumiere