I was talking to an acquaintance the the other day who asked me what the magic formula for writing is.
After exerting ALL my self-control to not roll my eyes or scoff at her (in times of pandemic, I’m thinking scoffing is crueler than usual) I managed to tell her that the “magic formula” is work. Usually hard work that no one can even see that you’re doing until your “magical” success when you finish a manuscript, publish a book, or hit a list.
There’s no magical formula, but there IS some writing advice I give to everyone who asks.
Years ago I saw this advice from author Bob Mayer (or I heard him say it at a workshop…either way he gets the credit): I would do anything to succeed at _______, just don’t ask me to _________.
Most people can fill in both blanks pretty easily.
“I would do anything to succeed at skydiving, just don’t ask me to jump out of a plane.”
“I would do anything to be covered in great tattoos, just don’t ask me to face a needle.”
Those might seem like extreme and/or silly examples, but we’re not always the most logical of beings.
For writers they might look like:
I would do anything to succeed at writing a book, just don’t ask me to give up playing video games to make the time to actually write.
I would do anything to succeed at landing my dream agent, just don’t ask to face the rejections that result as part of the querying process.
Right now my personal statement is: I would do anything to finish this latest Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman book, just don’t ask me to be funny in the midst of all this worldwide suffering and turmoil. (If you haven’t read the books, “funny” is a prerequisite and I’ve been struggling mightily with this manuscript.)
What about you? What are you dreaming of? What are your goals?
Take a second to fill in those blanks for yourself.
I would do anything to succeed at ____________, just don’t ask me to _________.
If you can force yourself to actually do whatever the second blank is, you’ve got a decent chance of creating your own magic.
I am moved by your struggle to find humor in these difficult times. This is the time we need humor more than any other. I’m sure you are familiar with the dark humor frequently attributed to those in fields such as medicine or law enforcement. Since my husband and I both worked in a hospital for years, believe me when I say how important it is to be able to laugh in the midst of tragedy. Your humor often has dark aspects. One quick example is the man killed by a disco ball in front of his granddaughter. Embrace your dark side and let the humor flow. Good luck.