Random Writing Thoughts

Rob Parnell
4 min readMar 10, 2024

Again, no time to do much creative work this week. Quite possible this newsletter may have to wait until next week. The weather is so hot here, they say record temperatures, that by the time I’ve made my TikTok video and watered the garden, it’s already lunch time. There goes the hour or so of my prime writing time.

As for editing my manuscript — which I mentioned last week — I’m still at a loss, though I have thought of another way forward.

To get me back on track with my novel, I’ve created an Excel spreadsheet that tracks which chapters I’ve finished. I’ve found that if I do a little — just a few minutes here and there — then I can progress slowly. At least something is getting done.

We’ve got the band coming over tomorrow and we’ve had to move the music studio into the house. Two months of relentless forty degree heat has meant the music room is just way too hot for five people. Better we play inside, with the air conditioning on full.

Honestly it’s no wonder so many early Australian immigrants abandoned outback living. It’s not just the heat, and the flies, it’s the fact there’s no water, not even damp drizzly days to break up the monotony.

On a different note, there’s a writer I know whose having problems. She keeps sending me cryptic messages about life and writing, the kind that people send when they’re on the edge of suicide.

I’m worried about her. But I wish she was more specific. I might be able to help her if I knew what the real problem was. As it is, she talks in generalities about abandonment (I assume her partner’s just left her) and about losing her way and having to relearn meaning and inspiration. She talks about being blocked but really I think she’s probably horribly sad and depressed.

She talks about a general lack of direction when to me she needs to drill down at her problems. Stop glamorizing her depression and start dealing with it.

But I know that trying to fix things is the classic male response — and apparently not always what is required. Females say they prefer to be heard, listened to, sympathized with, and don’t necessarily want their problems fixed. It can be frustrating for both parties because, however well-intentioned either may feel, neither is receiving what they need.

This is the same writer who believes that her fictional characters need lots of back-story to work.

I don’t agree. I believe fictional characters, heroes especially, shouldn’t be over analyzed. You don’t need to know everything about a person to find them compelling. In fact, just like in real life, it might be better not to know everything because a little mystery keeps you coming back. To know and understand everything about your hero (or your partner for that matter) makes them predictable and dull. Better to be surprised every now and then by their behavior. We need to be surprised sometimes. The world and the people residing here should not always act true to form. Your assumptions needs to be shaken, at least when it comes to writing.

Because, without sudden conflict there can be no drama.

There’s a lot of nonsense spoken by so-called writing gurus about these issues. To me, the process of writing needs to be simplified, not complicated. I feel strongly that if you’re going to help people write then you should make the process seem as easy as possible, not to fill potential author’s heads with a bunch of unnecessary obstacles.

Like the idea of creating a secret “wound” for your antagonist. The very idea is enough to give you a block just trying to get your head around it. And why would you need this wound? Surely the idea is simply playing into some Freudian trope that psychopaths need motivation? In reality that’s not the case.

Some people are just wired wrong. I’ve met enough sociopaths to know that there is often no “initiating event”. These people were born horrible. That’s what makes psychopaths evil — they have no conscience, no reason to be awful.

Besides, the motivation of the bad guy is usually an irrelevance. The only thing you need is an antagonist whose agenda is at odds with the hero. Whatever the hero wants or needs is thwarted by the antagonist. They have opposite agendas. Simple, clean, neat — and totally believable to a reader.

Why make life complicated? What’s the point of giving yourself headaches before you start. Stop thinking and just write, get it all down. If a wound occurs to you, and it fits, great, but if it doesn’t, don’t go there. It’s not necessary!

We should never get sucked in by imaginary blocks. As Douglas Adams once said, Writers’ Block was invented by Californians who can’t write.

If you’re tempted to believe you have blocks, you need to get over yourself and stop imagining that there are gremlins out there bent on persecuting you. It’s not true.

The rest of us just need to get on with it.

There’s no such thing as Writer’s Block. Don’t buy into the myth! You’ve never heard of surgeon’s block, have you? Or astronaut’s block? Of course not.

That would be just dumb.

Keep Writing

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Rob Parnell

Bestselling Author and Owner of Rob Parnell’s Writing Academy