Couch to 80k week 3 day 4 – letter to the anti-muse

Couch to 80k podcast is a writer’s bootcamp with daily exercises by Tim Clare and is part of his Death by 1000 paper cuts blog.

Ok, today’s podcast episode opened with a reading from the Screwtape Letters – CS Lewis’ series of letters to a little demon torturing a human to prise him away from God, and towards … well, probably Atheism (I myself am an atheist, so this little guy doesn’t even need to bother me). And the exercise was to write a letter to your own personal anti-muse demon from their boss.

I’m not sure I captured the voice, but I sure did nail all the things that I do/don’t do that stop me getting writing done. Though, almost certainly because I’ve been trying to have an iron-like will to sit down early in the morning to do the podcast (there were two occasions where I didn’t do it in the morning and it was 10 times harder) starting writing has felt easy, but I know my weakness. Starting is always easy, it’s carrying it through to completion. I have pieces in scraps of paper, bits written in books, digital documents littered liberally around every file system I’ve ever used and not a lot finished. Decades of noodling ideas and-aside from two or three ideas that I’ve had co-writers on, nothing you’d call finished.

So this letter is more personal to me than anything else I’ve written (though I could feel myself peel away from things that I know are sort of my worst feelings on the matter, it’s NOT written by me, rather written by that little demon that wants me to not write.)

You’re welcome to read it, you’re also welcome to skip it, one thing I’m pretty sure of is my personal little anti-muse is more than happy that I’m hoping you do though.

Dearest Mugblud,

I hope you’re doing well. I realise it’s been a disappointing few weeks. The Holden creature, while previously incapable of carrying through with the long held threat of “starting writing” appears to have stuck this writing habit out.

It’s a disappointment. One which I should hold you responsible for, but I will not. It’s easy to understand that you’ve grown accustomed to the easy life of not needing to do anything to prevent him from writing since he’d seemed so keen on preventing it himself.

And yet, here we are.

I’m glad to see that you’ve managed to stop him reading the books on writing – I’m not sure how you did, so clever it was. It’s been reported to me that you’ve been working through the vessel of Twitter – every day something new and pointless! A Sugery treat of zero goodness, most excellent.

It’s a shame that he’s already read three books on the subject, but at least we’re keeping that at bay.

I hope you’ve been making sure that, at every moment, there’s some new and dazlling interruption to his thoughts when he begins? I suggest getting him to feel guilty about ignoring his family, this seems a good weak point to work on – have him feel sorry for his youngest son. He’ll quickly forget that the writing, at only 10 minutes a day, is really nothing and start blaming it for why he never plays with his children (though, no matter how much time he does, as a parent, he will always feel guilt over not playing with his children – boring as they are).

Now, on to the next steps. The habit is established, though I think it’ll not be too hard to get him to stop – unfortunately he’s very comfortable with donning headphones and just typing (though good job on making his mind wander as Clare talks – very smart move to make him listen to a lot of the podcast until he could no longer read his own voice, just Clare’s).

What is absolutely vital is that we prevent him carrying through on the writing. Let’s assume he will continue to spend the 10 minutes a day (that said, don’t miss the opportunity to make that feel like effort, let’s not give it up too easily!) He seems very content to simply write something, think “that’ll do” post it on a file on his ipad, or on his blog (making sure the blog remains uncommented on is vital too, I enjoy seeing that he’s been checking his stats, as though that should make a difference on whether he should write or not)

We absolutely don’t want him editing anything, nor finishing anything. And, though this is a long way off, I think, the idea that he’d create an idea, write a story, edit it, polish it and write it up in script form and then draw it is anathema to us here in anti-muse department.

If someone sees this lazy layabout could do it, they too, in turn, can be persuaded.

Sincerly Yogwai.