You Are Not An Aspiring Writer

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Have you ever heard of impostor syndrome?

You probably have. So many people have been throwing the phrase around like it’s about to go out of fashion. It’s not like the phrase “going out of fashion”, which went out of fashion ages ago, and is only used in pep-talky blog posts like this one.

Also known as impostor phenomenonimpostorismfraud syndrome and impostor experience, impostor syndrome is a:

psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.

Despite external evidence of their competence, those experiencing this phenomenon remain convinced that they are frauds, and do not deserve all they have achieved.

You know it, don’t you? Most of us have felt it at some point or another. It’s a real problem, and it needs to stop right now. It’s responsible for so many potentially awesome works never seeing the light of day. It’s responsible for a lot of wasted hours, hours spent thinking…Am I a real writer?

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How Music Inspires Me To Write (And How It Can Help You Too)

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What inspires you to write? For those who haven’t picked up a pen since high school or tertiary education, what inspires you to do the things you love?

This isn’t a new question to this blog. Back in February of 2015, I wrote about how one shouldn’t simply expect to beat writer’s block. It’s not something simply beaten by inspirational quotes and the Perfect Mood. You shouldn’t just force yourself to write or sing or dance or act or design a video game. If you your hobby feels like a chore, you’re less likely to want to do it. Why are you even doing it? Even earlier, in September of 2013, I asked the big question: What inspires you? I told my 2013 WordPress readers that you should work out what makes you tick. What inspires you to write? Is it the soothing sounds of your cat lapping water from his bowl, or the disconcerting calmness of Resident Evil save room music?

Even if you don’t know exactly what makes you inspired, learning so will help you become a better writer.

If you don’t know what inspires you—the crux of why you write—you’ll make excuses not to write. That action romance you started back in 2007 will still be on that 256 megabyte flash drive, hidden away in your cluttered mess of a junk drawer, and by the time you finally get around to Konmari-ing that rubbish, you’ll have forgotten what USB is even an acronym for.

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Having a Dialogue About Writing Realistic Dialogue

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For the past couple of weeks, I have been reading a book that I have tentatively dubbed The Room of novels. I’m just over sixty pages into this 400-page behemoth of a novel with no substance, but that doesn’t mean it’s not interesting to read. No, of course it’s interesting. Despite its unnecessary textbook size, egregious spelling and grammatical mistakes, and gaping plot holes, this as-yet-unnamed book really does have a gripping plot, if not for the so-bad-it’s-good writing style. However, the dialogue is another problem altogether.

Writing good, engaging dialogue takes effort. As someone who has been told she writes effective, down-pat dialogue, I can tell you bad dialogue is glaringly obvious, and it really detracts from the effectiveness of the novel. While similar to real-life conversation, it is not the same. If you recreate a real-life conversation in your work of fiction, it’s going to sound awkward, clunky, and downright unreadable. For example, here’s a scene from my novel Reunion ’92 (its placeholder title):

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Reader Beware: How to Write a Good Scare

The three different types of Halloween haters

The four different types of people you encounter on Halloween. This caption sounds like an old Cracked article.

As you are celebrating Halloween—or not, because of your legitimate religious or cultural beliefs, or “We live in Australia not the USA hurr durr” bogan (i.e. the ‘Strayan equivalent of white trash) beliefs—there’s a lot to learn about those around you.

Whether there are trick or treaters knocking aplenty on your door, or you’re just watching or reading about the lives of those around you online, it’s an interesting time for a writer to be alive. Well, any time is an interesting time for a writer, unless you’re all about nostalgia, and for you, the past will always, always be better than the present. For example, around Halloween, you’ll read (or see) people complaining that lollies/candy are full of sugar and the reason why the obesity epidemic is why it is; how it’s originally a pagan creation; how it’s been erased of its original meaning and is all about Capitalism with a capital C; why we should hide kids away from the world or why the PC brigade is out to ruin everything; etc, etc. Sure, all of these happen at other times of the year, namely Christmas, New Year’s, birthdays and whatever your nation’s key holidays are.

Usually, come October 31st, most blogger/writers tend to talk about the genre popularised by Stephen King, H.P Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe—horror. Brrr! No, I’m kidding! We usually write a scary story for you, the reader, to enjoy. I probably have a few horror short stories lurking around somewhere. Ah, yes, there’s one about zombies or something hidden deep in the dustbowl of my C drive, in that  clutter-driven cave known as My Documents. However, in this week’s blog post, I’m not going to talk about the horror genre or show you a quick story about one of the many ghouls, zombies, vampires, or walkers we’re so obsessed with at the moment.

No, I’m going to talk about the truly spooky thing—human nature.
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How to Not Be Inspired

The internet is full of inspirational quotes designed to get people to whip into action and become the best person they can ever be. By internet, I refer to the Motivational Quotes pages on Facebook, every single creative mind and “guru” on Twitter, and whatever people post to break up the monotony of what they consider sad news.

Inspired yet?

Inspired yet?

Pursue your dream! they squeal. Be yourself; only by being yourself can you truly differentiate yourself. Misappropriated Marilyn Monroe and Dr. Seuss quotes. Don’t be a sheeple! they shout, as they act exactly the same as everyone else. Don’t forget that saying about being in a fishbowl, snowflake.

There’s a reason inspiration is so abundant on the internet. I quote famous people because I believe other people will be inspired by these quotes. Most people quote them to get more retweets and favorites and credibility.

But why?

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Time to be Inspired!

Fresh off a busy August/September – chock-filled with a delightful internship, a landmark birthday, a huge pile of final trimester assignments to research and write including an especially difficult creative nonfiction piece – here I am, back and gearing into action to write my 10th blog post.

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Busy writing, or something like that. Note: I still can’t draw hands.

I know people usually prepare something like their 100th blog post in glorious Technicolor for all the world to see (well, probably not, but you get the picture) but here I am, glad to see Gut Instinct is going well after just over a year after I beat the twin evils of writer’s block and procrastination to create it.

So, onto the topic of the month: what make a writer tick?

No, this is not Yet Another Blog Post on Writer’s Block, because I wrote about that in July, and that blank Word document is slightly less the enemy than it used to be.

No. What actually makes you want to write?

What inspires you?

Is the sound of your neighbour mowing their lawn, mixed with the calming sounds of Mahler or Yiruma stirring you into contemplative action? Do the wub-wubs of dubsteptechnopop force you to your laptop and start writing a 65,000 word action thriller during NaNoWriMo? Everyone’s different, but one thing is certain.

Even if you don’t know exactly what makes you inspired, learning so will help you become a better writer.

Is it just a spur of the moment thing, when your best friend Debbie comes over with her three-year-old son, and suddenly you think, ‘Danny may be howling right now, but this is exactly how I should start Revenge of the Red Cordial Toddler Attackers’?

Turns out you don’t act on Danny’s toddler tantrum by writing ROTCTA, but at least you’re inspired.

Just please, please don’t leave those ideas languishing in a cupboard for twenty years until they go mouldy, or you’ve hidden that great idea from 2003 on a floppy disk, and realise most computers don’t have floppy disk slots anymore.

Don’t just think your mood to write will disappear when Danny leaves the house, though. Quickly get the ideas down on paper or in a notepad app on your phone, so you can check those ideas over later to see if they’re still good.

Even if you don’t know what inspires you, please don’t just ignore writing if that’s what you really love.

Please don’t leave your masterpiece languishing in that cupboard for two decades. It’s such a cliché, after all.

Instead of lounging around watching Saturday night movies while kids/annoying younger brother/everyone is asleep or busy, please do what inspires you to write. Call it your pre-writer’s ritual.

PWR is important.

It breaks that writer’s block I mentioned last time – as if writer’s block needs to be mentioned yet again – plus it gets you in the mood to write.

And not just writing; if you’ve accidentally stumbled upon my blog and you’re not a writer (Welcome!), you can paint a portrait of Mr Buzz and Fluffy before they pass away and you don’t get the chance. Start your own blog. Stop procrastinating. Maybe your PWR consists of watching Bold and the Beautiful reruns, or David Attenborough’s specials on Tanzanian meerkat phoenix bears. If so, disregard what I said about using TV as an excuse to lounge (or hours on the internet, or a quick nap). Unless you’re lying to me and pretending you watch TV to be inspired. In that case… pfft, nobody on the internet lies!

I’ll end this post by saying what I’ve already stated; if you know what inspires you, or what makes you happy (like eating six kilos of chocolate), then you’re on your way to being more inspired, more often.

Mmm

Not exactly six kilos of chocolate, still, I don’t think it’s a good idea to be inspired by chocolate.

Or you can just force yourself to write without inspiration.

Ehh, too hard,” the faux-you says. “I’ll go sit and watch Dexter for a few hours. Oh, crap Debra just… Wow, that just made me think of how the Red Cordial Monster reacts when he accidentally drinks soda water and starts to deflate and…”

And thus you start writing. At least I hope so. Good luck!