How to Trick Yourself into Being Yourself

I’m a month into the new year, and on my way towards my goal of writing one short story a week.

And already I’m learning a lot.

First, this is not easy. I love writing (duh), but this is exhausting.

People always want to know “where I get my inspiration”, but that has never been my problem. There are hundreds, thousands of stories in my head: voices, characters, conundrums, settings, situations, variables, snippets all colliding and colluding up there. Neil Gaiman once wrote about the many worlds in every living mind, and, boy, do I feel that.

The problem for me isn’t turning on the hose, so to speak, but rather controlling the torrent of water that threatens to overwhelm me.

So I’ve come up with a method of self-delusion.

I’m not doing anything, I tell myself, I’m just writing one short story today. That’s all.

It’s a method I’ve used in the past, willfully ignoring what I’m doing so that I can set about actually doing it.

When I moved to California, for example, I told myself over and over again, while I was preparing, packing, riding in the car across the country, I’m not doing anything. I’m not moving to a new place where I don’t have a job or housing or know anybody. I’m just putting things in boxes. I’m just getting into a car. I’m just getting out of the car.

Because if I told myself what I was actually doing, I’d have a nervous breakdown.

That’s the secret, I guess, to being really brave, don’t let yourself know what you’re doing.

So, yes, I’ve written five short stories so far this year. And if all goes according to plan, I will write forty-seven more. But I’m not telling myself that.

And, yes, I’m planning a solo trip to Europe in the spring, with a limited budget and little knowledge. But I’m not telling myself that either.

I’m just buying a plane ticket. I’m just writing a short story. I’m just living a life.

It’s a new year.

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