How To Write More Often

One of four monsters is getting in your way. Here’s how to defeat it!

Sophie Lucido Johnson

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illustration by the author.

An old friend of mine recently messaged me out of the blue with a question I get from time to time from all kinds of interesting people: What advice do you have about writing more?

It’s rarely a question about writing better; it’s a question of production. How do you begin to move? Once you are moving, how do you stay in motion? And how do you do both of those things when you’re throat-deep in ten trillion other things?

First of all, I should say that when it comes to writing, I am a bit of a freak. I was simultaneously unable to make and uninterested in making friends as a child, and I was non-athletic and loathed the sun. I became very chubby and bitter, but I did have to fill my waking hours with activities, and the only thing I ever really wanted to do was write. I think this had to do with wanting the warmth of entering into another world.

At least 75 percent of everything I write is composed without the intention of ever finding readership. For some people, there is apparently a similar compulsion towards exercise, which I cannot begin to comprehend and seems like it must be made up. I guess what I’m saying is that we are all probably a little freaky in our own obsessive ways.

That said, I do have some advice about getting yourself to the page. It depends on your specific monster. There are four, by the way: four primary monsters whose entire reality hinges on a savage drive to keep you from writing anything ever at all.

THE MIRROR MONSTER

Says to you:

  • “Nothing you write is good enough.”
  • “Your ideas are all stupid. Are those the best ideas you have?”
  • “Oh look! You’ve started something! Let’s read it. (Pause.) Huh. That sounded a lot better in your head, didn’t it? Let’s scrap that and start again; you can do better.”

Battle this monster:

This is the same monster that knows exactly how much you weigh and reminds you that you are the only common thread in all your failed relationships. I’m pretty sure that even if you decided to live in an ashram in the Swiss Alps meditating…

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