Does writing fiction, poetry or screenwriting feel like an indulgence for you? Something so wildly unlikely to produce any financial return that you wouldn’t tell your closest friend of your secret love and ambition for it? Indeed, does a reality-checker voice shout so loudly that it prevents you writing at all?

Writing non-fiction and fiction, the latter has always been easier to justify here. It contributes to professional reputation, is a good marketing tool and gives evidence that you know your stuff. Non fiction traditionally gets publishing advances before completion, rarely the case if you’re a fiction newbie.But it’s not nearly so much fun…

In fiction, our inner child roams free, creating kingdoms, and goodies and baddies and catastrophes… In non-fiction, we always need to be slightly grown-up, unless of course we’re doing a misery memoir where full maturity is a rare option.

CP Snow famously said that the pram in the corridor was the enemy of creativity, but despite being a mum, I’ve never found that. It’s the ansaphone message that says ‘Hello, bank manager here, would you mind giving me a call please?’ that puts me into a self-doubt vortex where my conscience tuts: ‘You silly woman, what are you thinking of’

But – to hell with the pope – as my mother used to say, I’m reaching an age now, where not to write fiction would seem a dire waste of time.

In case you feel the same, here are some:

Conscience Taming Tactics

  • Make sure to hang out with others who love fiction, creative arts and invention. Minimise time spent with auditors and accountants… apart from creative ones
  • Schedule a mental meeting with the inner critic, your conscience, for half an hour every day from 6pm – 6.30pm. I like a glass of wine at this meeting but the conscience doesn’t. We review everything that’s happened in the day to keep my professional practice ticking away, and anything which needs doing urgently the next day. Then my conscience retires. It’s exhausting for him, this policing. I sometimes read a bedtime story to him of JK Rowling, or Tom Clancy or Mary Wesley, writers who achieved great things against the odds.
  • Give your conscience the whole weekend off, to work like stink on fiction then. He functions much more efficiently with a work-life balance, doncha know.
  • Picture your conscience as a daft little troll, who gets sent off on boat trips around the world and gets smaller and smaller as he vanishes into the horizon
  • Play this terrific video to your conscience from the wondrous Ira Glass. This poops him out, totally, I’ve found.

    Any other suggestions please?

  • 2 Comment on “Does Your Conscience Stop You Writing?

    1. Pingback: Does Your Conscience Stop You Writing? | Barrow Blogs

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