Dear Amy: In Which I Berate Myself Politely

Dear Amy,

Here’s the thing. You’ve been waffling back and forth over this thing called writing for a long time now, and really, we’ve all had just about enough. You say you want this, that it’s a life ambition, a goal, whatever; you say that it’s impossible to achieve with everything else you have going on in your life.

You’ve read the advice. You’ve read the books, the courses, the blog posts, the articles: Writers write. Whether they feel like it or not, whether they’re feeling inspired or not, they show up, they apply fingers to keyboard, and they write. Even if it’s junk. Because at least junk is practice.

Moaning in your head or on twitter or wherever that you don’t have time to write is not. Shocking, I know.

But seriously: remember what you read the other day in that glorious book of Liz Gilbert’s? No one cares! It doesn’t actually matter! If you can’t write during term time, then fine! Don’t write! But don’t then spend every waking minute berating yourself for not. Seriously. If you have energy to berate, you have energy to write.

Ultimately, this comes down to one thing, and one thing only: you either want it, or you don’t.

If you want it, don’t spend one-two-three-four-five hours procrastinating on social media or surfing the ‘net before you actually get to writing (and then wonder why you’re now too tired). Don’t stare blankly at the computer wondering what’s supposed to be happening (that’s what outlining is for, or at the very least, grab a freaking pen and do a brainstorm on some paper). And most of all, don’t angst back and forth, praying and wishing and hoping and wondering whether or not you’re “supposed” to be a writer or not. You’ve already had your answer there: Show up, and a career will too. Show up, and the magic will eventually happen.

Eventually. You know this ain’t happening overnight. You know the hours you have to put in for this to work. Either you want it enough to go for it, or it’s all too hard and you don’t want it enough – which, hey, that’s totally legitimate! You don’t need writing to put food on the table or pay the bills; you don’t need writing to help you sleep at night. This is, literally, the icing on the cake. You write because you like it.

You do like it, don’t you? Because if not, why are we even having this conversation? If you don’t like it, just stop already. No one’s going to call you a failure, a quitter, a loser. If you don’t like writing, then stop.

Oh, she says slyly. You don’t want to stop? You do like it after all? Well fancy that.

In that case, I have just one more question for you. Are you ready? Sure? Okay. Here’s my final question:


And remember, the whole point is that it’s fun, not work.

Love ya,


A PS for the not-me people in the audience: I still feel like this hasn’t quite captured the epiphanicness of my epiphany the other day, and certainly this isn’t as gloriously worded as the letter I wrote myself in my head at the time, but the point is there, I suppose: I really do spend an awful lot of time questioning a) whether or not I’m ‘supposed’ to be a writer and b) if I am, then why it’s so hard to actually achieve writing in my day-to-day life. The epiphany was: It’s hard because I lack commitment. That’s it. Full stop. Case in point: I wrote over a thousand words in the doctor’s waiting room last week purely and simply because it was post-this-epiphany and I made the decision not to be distracted. I fail at getting my word count in yes, because life is super busy, but actually mostly because I fail to decide not to be distracted. This is me, deciding: I will not be distracted any longer. Or at least, I’ll do my level best to recognise when that’s happening, and to recognise that the only one responsible for whether or not I am willing to allow myself to be distracted from my goals is ME. On that note, I’m off to sew some play mats and write some words. <3 A

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