Writing Parables – Life lessons that apply to writing


While walking out of my front door today, I found a lizard doing circles on my small concrete walkway. It looked as if the lizard was trying to bite the walkway, yet it never opened its mouth. For almost a full hour, we watched it out the window, trying to understand what it was doing, unsure if it was sick, injured, or doing something natural that we had simply not known of before. 

From time to time we take this same approach when we see someone doing something out of the ordinary. We want to stop and watch them. Find out what they are doing. Why? Is it working? Is it not working? What could possibly be going through their minds to do this strange thing? We want to analyze what we see and to understand it. 

This can be both a good thing and a bad thing. 

It is good to evaluate what other authors and writers are doing, learning what does and does not work for them. Studying their mistakes, and avoiding them is always an asset. Learning the lingo and how to navigate the world of publishing, and the challenges of world-building or editing is essential. Having a helping hand to aid you is a huge find. 

On the other hand, they are not you. Each person is different, and so is what works for each of us. I have a friend who plots their stories heavily. They know what happens, when, why, and how many words to use for it. However, I can’t stand working like that, and I feel suffocated in my story and lose my love for the story. Some writers will write in the morning and others at night; yet others steal small windows of time while they watch their children play. We can get so wrapped up in worrying about what others are doing and not doing and learning the latest trends that we lose sight of the big picture. Just as we spend an hour wasting time watching a lizard run in circles, we can all too quickly find ourselves wasting afternoons, evenings, or precious writing time worrying about what others are doing. 

My advice is simple. Take what works for you, ditch the rest, and get back to writing. The world will not end if we don’t check up on and spend every day obsessed with others. As writers, we know our time is precious. Don’t waste it on others, but delegate it wisely, with a focus on studying the things you do not know and a determination not to linger on things that hold no value to your personal journey. That includes the two hours I may or may not have wasted watching FailArmy, and FailArmy vs. WinArmy, and oh look at the new song from Skillet! 

As you guessed, I can be easily distracted. I find it good to take some time to refocus myself from time to time. 

I would love to hear about what you are currently focused on. Are you studying marketing, better ways to plot, taxes, etc.? What are some of the things you need to get rid of? Youtube? Facebook? Should you find a quieter place to work?