My Boss Is a Tyrant 1

Lightbox for Jan 23 - my boss is a tyrant

Notes to Self

  • Sometimes I can’t find the energy to write anything.
  • I don’t have time to write.
  • I’ll do it later.
  • I’ll start writing when I retire. I’ll have lots of time then.
  • I don’t know how to get started.
  • I wouldn’t be any good anyway.

Excerpt from Really Stupid Writing Mistakes: How to Avoid Them

Hints for Keeping at it

It’s a Job!

Whether or not you work from home, set aside the same two, three, or four days in a row each week for writing. If you make Mondays one of your days, then take Mondays off on long weekends. You must think of it as work, as a job, and not as something to do only when inspiration sneaks up behind you in the Ocean of Creativity. You will soon discover that inspiration will come when you want it to, not randomly, like shark attacks.

Set the alarm to wake up by a certain time on those days. Give yourself only one hour to shower, eat, dress, etc. — the same as you would do for a regular job working for somebody else — then get to work on time. (I’m suggesting mornings because our Lizard Brain is probably still asleep.)

Take Breaks

When you’re working, take regular coffee breaks. If you’re in the middle of a thought, scribble a note, get back to it later. You’ll be surprised at how well the brain learns and retains when it wants to. If a dog can understand the word cheese, spoken or spelled, in three different languages, surely we can retain a thought if we make a note.

It’s not a good idea to write when we’ve consumed mind-altering substances like alcohol or drugs. These interfere with Muse communication. We need to set our hours around that activity if we indulge. Incidentally, almost all anti­depressant medications throw cold water on creativity.

Keep Your Actual-Writing Work Day Short

Punch out after two or three hours of actual writing, but make it always the same time limit even if nothing seems to be going down on paper. The logic behind this is simple: You leave something when you are still in the middle of enjoying it, so human nature will make you anxious to get back to it. Or, if you’re sitting there, not allowed to do anything but write, you might as well write. Right?

After you punch out, turn off your writing brain by doing something mindless for at least fifteen minutes. Something like Farmville®, solitaire, or mahjongg. Think of this mindless activity as a decompression chamber for your right brain. [The right brain deals with concepts, the left with details — unless you’re left handed, then it’s opposite. I will be referring to the right brain as the concept side, throughout.]

You can always play the complicated, left-side-activating puzzle games later.


During those two or three hours of actual writing, don’t do anything else. Don’t even answer the telephone. You’re at work, right? Your boss is a despot.

You can make appointments on these working days you’ve chosen, but only in the afternoon, after work.

After Hours

On your working days, go ahead and make notes for yourself outside of your writing hours, but only up to a total of maybe seven hours all told. These outside hours are also a good time to do research but relaxed research — without pres­sure. Have fun with it. Then put everything away until next time. (Ah. Maybe your boss isn’t such a despot, after all. See how lenient s/he is? See how you are loving this job already? See how spoiled you feel? See how anxious you are to get back at ’er next time?)


Next Post — My Boss is a Tyrant 2

Sherrill Wark is the author of Really Stupid Writing Mistakes: How to Avoid Them:

… and Death in l’Acadie: a Kesk8a story (fiction):



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