Wednesday, 7 January 2015

IWSG - "I can't do it."

If any of you are parents, I'm sure you've heard this phrase numerous times, possibly even several times today. "I can't do it."

I was an awful one for this as a child. I can't climb the monkey bars, I can't do my homework, I can't phone my gran to thank her for the present because phone calls absolutely terrify me.

You get the picture.

Now the phrase that haunts me is "I can't finish a draft." The last time I actually finished a piece of writing was 2011 and it was a Fanfiction. So, my track record is woefully lacking in finished works. My limit is about 15-20,000 words, and then things just seem to fall apart. My fingers wont work on the keyboard, the well of plot just seems to run dry and every word feels like I'm wading through treacle. At that point I give up, because if it's that hard to write then it must read like absolute torture.

However, not too long ago I was uttering the phrase "I can't do it," with regard to teaching. Before most classes on my training year I would begin to panic. My heart would hammer and my stomach would perform some intricate origami before the 30 or so kids would pour into the room enquiring as to whether or not we would be setting things on fire today.

But that's now my job. 8-4, Monday to Friday I teach 11-15 year olds Science. And I'm not naturally boastful but I'm kind of alright at it. And I can't remember a time when I laughed so much. It's not an art that I have perfected, I'm not the most inventive or creative of teachers. There are still the kids and the classes that I'd rather not teach but I don't think I can apply the phrase "I can't do it" to teaching anymore.

Perhaps with a more perseverance and the addition of a "Don't break the chain" poster this may be the year that I finish a WIP. It's on my 2015 to-do list, so I hope that it works.

Have you conquered your I can't's?

Sarah x


  1. Ah! The 'Be Perfect' monster at work. I have one of those, and the worst thing about it is all those things I don't even start because I know I won't be perfect (or whatever 'perfect' looks like in my mind's eye). This Be Perfect thing was something someone told me about - part of Transactional Analysis (TA). Her monster was "Must please Mummy", and what got her down was thinking her mother would not approve of whatever it was she did. There are others, apparently, but I only know the Be Perfect monster. I'm terribly familiar with

    Is it good to know you're normal? Nice to meet you on the ISWG!


  2. From one teacher to another? You CAN do it. You are already getting there. You said so yourself... and you're laughing a lot in the process... a positive sign!
    Plus it gets easier with time...
    Just hang in there.
    Persevere. With the first draft and the teaching.
    One day you'll look back and wonder what the fuss was all about...
    And remember the IWSG has the most wonderful, supportive writers you will EVER find.
    Have you signed up on the IWSG facebook? The link is:

    Writer In Transit
    January IWSG co-hostess.

  3. When our oldest was a toddler, she used to say "I can't want to." I always thought that was so much more honest than I can't do it.

    Middles are super hard in a manuscript and they do require tons of personal discipline to make it through. They will likely be all sorts of messy, but you can't revise it if you never wrote it. Set daily or weekly word goals. Or maybe a chapter at a time.

    Best of luck!

  4. Hi Sarah, I started my writing career in fan fiction, and now I have five novels published. You can do it! I know that social writing is helpful for me and I bet it's helpful for you too. Do you have critique partners? Have you ever done a writing challenge? (Two or more write as many words as possible in one hour, for example, then report back their word count.) Best of luck!

  5. Oh but you can! Just as you presevered with teaching, you will with writing. With the fanfic under your belt and thousands worth of words, you know you have the ability to do it :)

  6. It's imperative to train your brain to think like Thomas the Tank Engine... I can do it! Happy New Year!


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