Demons won’t eat your legs if they escape your duvet cover…

Most mornings I wake up between 6 and 6 30 AM for the gym.

It’s winter at the moment, and my bed is warm and loving… so, as you can imagine, getting up in the cold to walk to the gym isn’t the most appetising prospect.

In fact, between you and I, there have been a few mornings where I’ve decided to get an extra hour’s sleep.

But 9 times out of 10 I get my arse up and go.

Because the end result – looking and feeling good – is much better in the long-term than the short-term allure of an extra bit of shut eye.

I’ve found that, if I can just muster up the energy to flick the duvet off my legs, I’ll get up.

A split-second of willpower is enough to force me up and out of my apartment.

When it comes to other struggles in life that one push can make all the difference.

It’s like with writing. Writing 1000 words can seem like such a chore. But writing a sentence doesn’t.

So… why not aim to write that sentence?

Once you’ve actually opened your document and written it, the rest of your words will probably flow and before you know it you’ll have a 1000 more words than you thought.

Let’s see if I’m wrong…

Do you sound like yourself?

From time to time, those who I know in real life happen to stumble across some of my writing.

Surprisingly the most common thing I hear isn’t that ‘your writing is rubbish’ – it’s actually ‘this sounds like you – you write exactly like you talk’.

I’m happy with that.

It makes my writing genuine, and for the reader it feels as if I’m talking directly to them.

Which is really important for holding someone’s attention.

Sadly, a lot of people don’t write as they’d talk. Even through private Whatsapp messages or emails.

Friends who I’ve known for years and seen in numerous stages of undress and drunkenness write to me as if they’re my solicitor.

Why?

And no, it’s not because they’re usually filing lawsuits against me…

It seems to me that a lot of us completely lose our voice and our character when we’re on the other end of a screen, fingers tapping over a keyboard. We feel as if nothing has changed since the 18th century – so our writing has to sound like we’re using a quill and parchment.

Which is sad, because all our voices are unique. The only thing that should ever change is our tone, depending on what the conversation is about and who we’re talking to.

For example, you’d talk differently to your best friend than you would the kindly old dear next door. I hope…

Next time you’re writing something – be it an email or a ‘which pub and what time?‘ text – write it exactly how you’d say it aloud.

What changes?

Have you ever had an opinion on something?

In the last four weeks, I bet you’ve done at least one of these four things:

– Visited a restaurant
– Visited a tourist attraction
– Watched a film/TV series
– Read a book

(Unless you’ve been finding out what it would be like to live in a nuclear fallout shelter I hope I’m right.)

Okay, now answer this… in the last four weeks have you ever wanted to write but not found the time nor the inspiration?

If you’re reading this blog, I’ll hedge my bets that your answer is ‘yes’.

My apologies if you just said ‘yes’ aloud for no reason in a room full of people. Although maybe your fault for reading a blog at work…

A few years ago, before I started this website, I would frequently do all of the four things above and would also find myself wanting to write, but lacking the inspiration or ‘the time’.

Take one glance at a site like Twitter or the comments page on a newspaper’s website and you’ll be forcibly reminded of the fact that we all have an opinion. And everyone likes to share their opinion when they get the chance.

Just like everyone else, whenever I visit a museum, watch a film, read a book or go out for a meal I have an opinion on what I’ve just experienced.

So I decided to write about it.

Trip Advisor, Goodreads, Imdb, etc. There are so many platforms out there where your reviews can actually help people, as well as give you a chance to flex some words out onto a page.

I found myself writing a metric shit ton of reviews. Trying to make them as funny, interesting and entertaining as possible.

I found that the more I wrote, the more I wanted to write.

It brought back my creativity.

It brought back my inspiration.

And, in doing so, I realised that I actually did have time to write. More time that I knew. If I could find time in my day to write a 300 word review, I had time to write whatever I wanted to.

Try it. It’s the springboard that helped get me focused and writing again.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky and the importance of perspective

Perspective is the key to telling stories and understanding the best ways to communicate with people.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky is one of the most famous authors of all time. He grew up in Russia during the 1800s and his books – such as Crime & Punishment, The Idiot and Demons are still widely read today.

One of Dostoyevsky’s biggest skills in his writing, asides from his storytelling, was his ability to talk so deeply and truly when it came to mortality.

Mortality is, of course, one of most prevalent human issues and something that we all have in the corner of our minds. So, if an author can talk about this well, they’ll often get our attention right away.

Why was Dostoyevsky so talented when it came to talking about mortality?


Because he had a perspective very few of us will ever be around to share.

He knew what those last few seconds before death felt like.

In 1849 the ruler of Russia at the time, Nicolas I, had banned a lot of famous literature because he was worried that it might stir up revolution.

Being classically non-conformist creatives, Dostoyevsky and his friends had decided to try and read those books. But, unfortunately for them, Nicolas I caught and arrested them.

They faced the death penalty…

So, on a cold day in Saint Petersburg, Dostoyevsky and his friends were blindfolded and lined up in front of a firing squad.

A few moments ticked by.

The Commander motioned for his men to take aim.

Dostoyevsky and co winced as they heard the soldiers preparing to fire.

Seconds before a plethora of triggers were pulled there came another sound…at first it sounded like heavy rain…but soon they realised that it was a horse & cart – approaching them at an electrifying pace.

Aboard the cart was a message from Nicolas I.

What was the message?

Simple. After some consideration Nicolas I had decided to imprison them rather than have them executed.

And, so they survived – and Dostoyevsky lived to write again.

But, this time he was armed with the knowledge of how those few hopeless moments before death felt. A perspective that few others had, and one that he could exploit in his writings.

As a writer, what perspectives do you have that no one else does?


by Ashley Brown 2018

 

Inspired by this great Quora article

Eighty percent of success is…

“Eighty percent of success is showing up”
– Woody Allen.

I think this is a very apt quote for a site called ‘whyididntwritetoday’.

Because if you don’t start writing or trying to write success won’t come anywhere near you.

Woody Allen started out writing jokes for people, and then decided that he’d be good at delivering the jokes himself.

So he started by getting bit-parts in TV shows that he wrote the jokes for.

But, because he wasn’t a big name, they used to give his funniest jokes to the stars of the show.

Woody didn’t like this.

So he decided to only go for parts where he could play the lead.

Which meant that he had his pick of the best lines, monologues and jokes.

Look at him now. It paid off.

Should you be more ‘War and Peace’ or more Ernest Hemingway?

‘War and Peace was first published as a book in 1869.

It has around 1,225 pages.

It’s philosophical, emotional, realistic and very involving.

If you can read it that is. That’s a hell of a lot of pages.

Most people can’t and won’t find the time to read all that.

Particularly with modern day leisure distractions such as computer games and on demand streaming

On the other hand, Ernest Hemingway is known for writing one of the shortest stories of all time.

It goes:

For Sale: baby shoes, never worn”.

It has impact doesn’t it? It makes you think and leaves you with many questions.

So, when it comes to your own writing, it’s a worthy reminder that you don’t need to write the next ‘War and Peace’ to connect with an audience and drive a point.

Not to say that longform content doesn’t always work…its just a case of understanding your reader.

What would work for those who read The Guardian wouldn’t work for those who read The Sun.