ACW

ACW

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Monster Taming for Writers, by Fiona Lloyd


When I first started writing, I hadn’t realised what a dangerous occupation it can be. Having spent some time researching this issue, I feel it now my duty to warn you of some of the scarier creatures you are likely to encounter at some stage in your writing career.

The Deadline Dragon likes it best when he can sneak up on you undetected. His favourite ploy is to lull his victim into a false sense of security by waiting at a safe distance and pretending to be harmless. The unsuspecting writer may be aware of the deadline dragon lurking on the periphery of his calendar, but reasons that he is so far away that there is no need to worry about it. As soon as the poor writer relaxes his guard, however, the deadline dragon pounces, causing terror, panic and sleepless nights. For some malevolent reason known only to themselves, deadline dragons often prefer to work in twos or threes, thus exponentially increasing the fear level.

The deadline dragon can be alarming even for the most experienced writer, but experts agree that it helps to be prepared, so aim to keep half an eye on them at all times.

The Bad-Review Bogeyman is one of the meanest creatures the writer is likely to come across, and he tends to strike without warning. He’s always happiest when his victim is reduced to a blubbering heap on the floor, particularly if she can be made to utter phrases along the lines of “I’ll never be any good at anything” or “Maybe I should take up bog-snorkelling instead”. The bad-review bogeyman strengthens his attack by nit-picking, by deliberately misunderstanding the writer’s work and – if he’s being really vicious – by making wildly untrue statements.

Because of the apparently arbitrary nature of his assaults, it’s difficult for the writer to fully protect herself against the bad-review bogeyman. Having a list of good reviews or compliments to throw back at him can lessen the impact. It’s also worth stocking up on medicinal supplies such as wine and chocolate.

Computer Critters also attack seemingly at random, although the discerning writer may notice them becoming more active when the deadline dragon is on the prowl. They like to create mischief by eating large portions of text, or by crashing the computer when the long-suffering writer is in the middle of something VERY IMPORTANT. They’ve been known to play elaborate games of hunt-the-thimble by moving files around the computer during the night, inducing early-morning meltdowns for the writer. The computer critter is believed to be a distant relative of the Phone-call Pixie, who can be relied upon to interrupt just when the writer has got into the flow of a particularly tricky sentence.

Computer critters are extremely irritating, but tend to have an exaggerated sense of self-importance. Show them who’s boss by regularly saving and backing-up work – emailing it to yourself is a good strategy – and they will almost certainly retreat to a corner and sulk.


So, I trust this information has been helpful … are there any others I’ve missed?


Fiona Lloyd is vice-chair of the Association of Christian Writers and is married with three grown-up children. Her first novel, The Diary of a (trying to be holy) Mum, was published by Instant Apostle in January 2018. Fiona has also had short stories published in Woman Alive and Writers’ News and has written articles for Christian Writer and Together Magazine. Fiona works part-time as a music teacher, and is a member of the worship-leading team at her local church.
Twitter: @FionaJLloyd & @FionaLloyd16


14 comments:

  1. How true! Particularly resonant for me recently is the Computer Critter, on this occasion defeated by the redoubtable Retrieval Squad!

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    1. I did think of you when I was writing that bit! Glad you managed to rescue it.

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  2. What a brilliant post Fiona. Thank you

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    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Lynda.

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  3. Wonderful post, Fiona. I've faced all of these and the Missing Punctuation Marks Fiend.

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  4. Haha! How true. My favourite part was the mention of 'medicinal' wine and chocolate. Right on! Great post Fiona x

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    1. Very important for the writer to take good care of herself! Thanks for reading, Deborah.

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  5. Made me laugh, thank you. Another one is the Bank Balance Banshee whose screeches keep the writer awake at night and drive them to consider going out and getting a 'real job'.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it. I think the Bank Balance Banshee wields way too much influence!

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  6. Love it! But you did miss one: the No-Reviews-At-All Nasty! All publicity is good publicity...

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    1. There are some monsters that are too scary to write about!

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  7. That's great Fiona! I regularly do battle with all of those!

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    1. Thanks! I rather thought I wouldn't be the only one.

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