How’s that monkey doing? The one sitting on your shoulder? Is he gorging on your procrastination? Have you given him some morsels from social media, or the contents of a few special-offer emails, or let him snack on some celebrity gossip sites?
He’s hungry, isn’t he? He sucks your inspiration away, leaving you staring at a blinking cursor on a white page while time ticks on. He feeds on nascent ideas, gobbling them up before they reach the page. He whispers in your ear. “Why do you bother? You’re not good enough. Who do you think you are?”
If you’re clever, you can feed him into a coma and get some writing done. Later he wakes up and forces you to save your efforts to the ‘unfinished folder’. He likes to bury them. “Edit tomorrow. That one is still a rough draft.” He encourages you to let your pieces stew. “This one’s not ready yet, let it ferment a while longer.”
You sit in your writing nest, surrounded by half-complete work. It’s hard enough to get words down without him jabbering away at you all the time. You’re studying an online tutorial that asks the following question. “What are your writing tics?” It’s like your monkey has a friend reaching out to you from beyond the screen. “You’re such a smart monkey,” you say. “Tell me the answer. If you’re so quick to judge, tell me what really irks you about my writing?”
He gets verbal diarrhoea, blathers on for hours.
“…there is the way you always use dashes–like this–in the middle of saying something else. And what about when you start sentences with ‘and’? Then there is your use of then. You love an excessive amount of ellipses too…”
You try to interrupt. He holds up his little paw to stop you.
“But I know what you’ll say and the same comment goes for ‘but’s. No, let me finish, why use one word when you can use ten? Why be original when you can rely on hackneyed old phrases?”
You tap your foot impatiently. “Anything else you’d like to share?”
“Your writing is filled with the passive voice. Too many years writing stuffy old reports for stuffy old boards. And puhlease I’m at my wit’s end with your use of clichés and you are horribly reliant on adverbs to do your heavy lifting.”
His favourite nap-time is when you are in the shower, ideas spilling out of your brain as the water cascades around you. They dry up as you towel off and he laughs in your face when you can’t recall a single one once dressed. He dozes while you drive fast down the motorway, entire stories emerging perfectly formed while you grip the steering wheel.
One day in a coffee shop, you write one hundred words. It only takes a few minutes and your monkey doesn’t notice. You repeat. The next week you write two hundred words per day. He slumbers away on your shoulder content that you are not amounting to much. The next week you are up to three hundred words per day. Your words are peppered with dashes, ellipses, adverbs, passive voice, clichés, thens, ands and buts, but they are yours, all yours. They spur you on, in all their flawed glory. Your word-count creeps up. And your monkey snores on. Oblivious…
I’m Rananda, a Sydney-based writer and editor.
With 25-plus years in corporate life, a financial background, a science education, and a lifetime of writing, I know there is more to starting and growing a loyal following than just the words on your website or saving that draft manuscript in a folder.
I bring comprehensive practical experience to supporting your writing needs.