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Pieces 03: Get past the monkeys

Pre-match nerves as I prepare for my writing retreat next week, plus learning not to care and one more writing tool.

Iain Broome
Iain Broome
3 min read
Pieces 03: Get past the monkeys

Me again. I’m still getting used to sending emails to you every day. My assumption is it’s all terribly bothersome and I should leave you the heck alone. But the open rates suggest otherwise, so thank you once again for following my folly.

If you think a writer or even reader friend might like what I’m up to, send them to the Pieces page on my website to sign up.

Now on to today’s missive.

I’m starting to get a little nervous.

It’s no small thing for me to give up a week of freelance work to do something that is, much to my annoyance, a sexy hobby. I’m literally giving up money to move Post it notes around and make stuff up in a shed.

Sure, it’s exciting. I’m excited!

But it’s also a real-life thing that has real-life consequences and now the week is almost here the naughty part of my brain is saying things like, “Hey, nerd! You’d better make every second count!” And, “Oy, clopchops! Don’t forget to make everything absolutely brilliant while you’re at it!”

As you’re about to read below, these feelings are monkeys on my back. I’m sure it will all be fine, but I am starting to feel some entirely self-imposed pressure to make the most of this retreat. I need to chill the heck out, basically.

Another monkey on my back takes the form of my youngest human daughter. Unlike her three siblings, she has been and continues to be a terrible sleeper. And we are going through a bad patch. For example, last night I had just 2–3 hours kip.

I’ve gotten pretty good at living with sleep deprivation. But it would be absolutely smashing if she could apply some of her excellent ‘being cute’ skills to ‘not waking up for several hours in the night’.

Gah. I’m panicking out loud. Sorry about this.

Have you read Release the Bats by DBC Pierre? It’s one of my favourite books on writing and this paragraph often comes back to me. Beware some fruity language.

"Still others become so enchanted with our first words that the page becomes a sacred cow that we can't move forward with or change. The solution to that is a solution to much of art: find a way to not give a shit. Writing is our bitch, it's robust, it's plastic. Against all the monkeys the job can put on our backs stands one truth: it's not a book until it's finished, and finishing it means getting past the monkeys."

I’m a bit of a perfectionist as a writer. By which I mean I struggle to just crack on when I know something isn’t quite right. I am not good at not giving a shit.
Next week, once my writing retreat starts, I will try my very hardest at not caring. I’m going to attempt writing and moving on as quickly as possible. To see if I can build momentum, you might say.

I would like to get past all these monkeys. My hope is that even just a few days of focus on this novel will give me fresh impetus. And I might gain the confidence I need to make 2022 the year it finally comes together.

Know thy monkeys. Face them. Then get past.

Finally today, when I shared my writing tools yesterday I forgot one important bit of kit. It’s an app called Freedom, which blocks the internet and makes it annoyingly difficult for me to turn it back on again. Very handy.

Let’s leave it there. Tomorrow evening I’ll be venturing out into the world to join my book club gang for some hot literary chat and a fair bit of nonsense. I’ll either keep my email to you very brief or give us all a day off.

I have to say though, I’m finding the process of sending these emails useful already. They’re getting me thinking, helping me prepare and keeping my fingers all loose for the big show next week!

With much affection,



Iain Broome Twitter

I'm the author of the novel, A is for Angelica. Every week, I send Draft Mode, a newsletter full of tips and tools that help you improve your craft and promote your writing.

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