by Sarah Sullivan
In her latest book, The Story of a Happy Marriage, Ann Patchett delights readers with a hybrid memoir-essay-writing guide compendium. This is a boon for writing novitiates, such as myself. In “The Getaway Car”, her chapter dedicated solely to tips of the trade, Patchett dispenses good advice in bulk (writers block is a myth, too much research can lead to procrastination, finish your novel before you look for an agent, just to name a few.)
Amongst the multitude of sagacious nuggets I found myself a real gem which I shall polish off and heretofore refer to as surrendering the talisman. Now, I know for a fact that many widely successful writers as well as those who toil away just to eek out a living, rely on unique charms to invoke inspiration: a special pen, a certain type of paper, a particular room, you get the idea. Don’t get me wrong, Ms. Patchett would be the first to say If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, do what works for you. For me, however, this recommendation is good council because I tend to use such alchemy as an excuse to dally in the dreaded “P” word. That’s right folks, I’m talking about procrastination.
I admit it. I have been known to talk myself out of sitting down to write due to the fact that I am not at my desk or don’t have my computer or that I prefer writing on a legal pad rather than in a spiral notebook. None of this is strictly true, of course, I have not enjoyed enough success as a writer to justify such luxuries, but it sounds reasonable at the time.
That is why this year I am employing a new strategy designed to combat this dreaded habit. My goal is to take myself out of my writing comfort zone and write at different locations and with different tools in hopes of making myself a more flexible, and let’s just say it, less lackadaisical practitioner.
Do you have a special charm that works for you?