There are times in my life when attempting to write fiction is akin to what I imagine it’d be like to trudge through a lake of cold treacle wearing a space suit lined with lead.
I know that there are various tricks that can be usefully employed when you feel stuck like this, such as setting yourself smaller goals or trying to see things from inside someone else’s head, but there’s no getting round the fact that it’s all very hard work.
I’m quite a fan of the self-help book and have a number of such tomes in my bookcase. One of my favourite authors in the genre is the hypnotist, Paul McKenna.
One of the many useful things I’ve gleaned from Mr McKenna is the trick of creating another version of myself in my mind, the Lorna I’d ideally like to be. It was that Lorna who wrote and published a book about tearooms last year, and it’s the same one who’ll be completing her first novel at some point.
When I lack self-belief, I can remind myself that I needn’t fear because the other Lorna’s on hand to help me out. She doesn’t suffer from the same hang-ups as I do, which I must say is jolly helpful.
Another book I’ve found very useful recently is “Bounce” by Matthew Syed. He now makes his living from writing and broadcasting, but in his younger years he was a table tennis champion.
His book has the subtitle “The myth of talent and the power of practice” and if, like me, you don’t feel naturally talented but you would still like to be quite good at something, this book is a marvel for encouraging you to believe it’s possible.
One of his theories – and it’s shared by many other people who’ve studied and written about it – is that you can become an ‘expert’ in just about anything if you dedicate 10,000 hours of practice to it. I like this idea. I don’t know how many hours I’ve spent writing in my life so far but it helps me to know that even if what I write frustrates me with its feebleness, it’s all grist to the mill.
I wrote this post by way of taking a break from writing my novel, because of the whole treacle situation. I wanted to remind myself (and anyone else who might benefit from reading it) that it is, in fact, possible to write a novel or achieve some other goal if you keep slogging away at it.
Not that I wish to get ideas above my station, but to quote another chap on my bookshelf: “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all” (Dale Carnegie).
Lastly, there’s nothing like a bit of luck to help you on your way. As Thomas Jefferson so perspicaciously put it: “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.”