A Trolley Problem for Writers

A friend of mine wrote a book on how he became a top selling Amazon writer within the last four years and it’s a fun read so far. I don’t think of him as this funny in real life. But that is the value of editing first drafts, I suppose, you can heighten the funny so that it is obvious enough even for me.

What many of my close friends know about me is that I can’t resist a book on writing and Bill has written a great one. I’m just in the beginning but I’m already finding things that speak to me.

Hmmm. Bill actually does know me. Is he speaking to me directly? Maybe? Is that a bit spooky? Hmmm.

One great thing he says is that he had to get out of his own way.

The biggest thing that’d changed over the years is that somehow I had learned to just tell the story and stop worrying about whether it sounded right or not. Maybe I just grew old enough not to care what my inner critic said. Anyway this new-found skill allowed my fingers to become an extension of my subconscious for the first time in my life.

Bill Webb in Have Keyboard: Will Type

I’m still trying to move the inner critic off the tracks so that my creative train can begin chugging along again.

This is the trolley problem, clearly. I have three great story ideas on one track and the inner critic, a large behemoth of a woman sitting on the opposite track eating an entire container of vegan chocolate ice cream she took from my freezer while laughing at me.

The trolley barrels down on my ideas. I can flip the switch, but then I will be responsible both for killing my internal critic and destroying an innocent container of ice cream. What to do?

Crash! Poor ideas. They were too young to die.

Ideally, I would find the Kobayashi Maru maneuver and find a way to cheat, leaving both the inner critic and the ideas alive while I retrieve the ice cream and munch down. (And, I wouldn’t gain weight from eating the ice cream in this fantasy plan either.) I suspect as I read further into Bill’s book I will find that there isn’t a Kobayashi Maru maneuver for this one.

It’s been astonishing to me as I’ve moved further into the writing community just how many of us have inner critics squatting on our tracks and eating our desserts. Even people I would swoon to meet sometimes face this. It’s a crazy situation.

I suppose not caring what other people think of the first draft is the key. Or perhaps it’s as Dean says and it’s about not caring what other people think at all. I don’t know how anyone gets there. But clearly many people do. There are a kajillion books out there.

So that’s my challenge for the week. Find a way to move that crazy squatter off the tracks or else seize the lever and divert the trolley.

Hope you’re doing well and that no one squats on your creative tracks laughing at you while stealing your chocolate. Save your ideas! They’re too young to die.

Be well, friends.

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