Writing Right Now
By Atlin Merrick
The day Improbable Press published A Murmuring of Bees I kind of had a conniption fit on our blog. That moment went something this, only these words below are amended to be even more shouty. Um, I mean encouraging.
Please write.
Write right now.
There are a million things you could do instead that do mostly nothing for you. Watch TV. Scroll Tumblr. Be afraid.
It's that last one that's the most damaging. Because unlike those others which sometimes rob you of time, being afraid robs you of courage and of hope. And fear doesn't give anything back, unlike the relaxation or community you sometimes get from TV or Tumblr.
So write.
Write right now because you love writing. Write right now because you have things to say. Write and then, for the love of courage and hope, share it everywhere and anywhere and then do this important thing: ignore anyone who says something negative.
Because no matter at what stage you are in your writing, you're doing fantastically well because you're writing.
A Murmuring of Bees? Improbable Press asked a lot of people to take part. A lot of them said they couldn't. They were afraid. Others were afraid and did it anyway. For a lot of those people their story in that anthology was their very first writing sale.
Please don't be afraid. Nothing happens, nothing changes if you give in to fear.
Write. Write because you love it, and then love it more by listening to the people who tell you what you do well. Ignore the people who criticize if you never asked for their critique. People complain about your writing because they are afraid to do it themselves. They're afraid and they feel better when you are, too.
If you write, you're already doing more than most of those people. Keep doing it. Then share it, share it, share it. The 'less than good' features of your writing? Many of them will go away on their own if you just keep writing. So write and share. Don't be afraid. Because even though it doesn't seem like writing fan fiction will take you somewhere it can.
I didn't expect to publish my first book The Day They Met. But that book? It happened because I wrote hundreds of thousands of words of fan fiction, many of those words about other ways John Watson and Sherlock Holmes might meet. That book happened because I kept writing, even when my writing was rubbish I kept going until it wasn't. I was fifty-years-old when that book came out and I know most of you are younger than that so stop waiting.
Please write. Then keep writing. Share what you write. With us, on AO3, anywhere. Ignore anyone who harshes your gig.
Ignore them, ignore them, ignore them.
Others grow big when they can make you small so don't let them. Delete their comments. Deleting isn't cheating. It is your privilege to make your world a safe haven and that includes your online world. Delete comments that are mean or rude or just-somehow-kinda-shitty.
Then smooch the people who praise your gifts. And let their words water you, teach you, motivate you to grow those gifts.
Now please. Sit down now and write right now.
Then keep writing. You'll get where you want to be.
You will.
You. Will.
Atlin Merrick is acquisitions editor for Improbable Press and she happy-shouts at people an awful lot. She means well.
To help you write right now, Improbable Press is going to post prompts every newsletter. Here are the first six. Fill any or all of them. Make them funny or sexy, filthy or sweet.
Then for the love of all that's lovely, share them. Share on your Tumblr, your Twitter, on Improbable Press' blog. Or email them to us at and we'll post them for you, whether you share your name or not.
Now write something. Then share. Ready? Go:
* The first time he said 'I'm sorry'
* That's not a coffee stain
* Feed me
* What the hell is that?
* Don't touch me there…touch me here
* It melts in the rain
Stealing From the Thief of Time
By Dimitra Stathopoulos
Hello. My name is Dimi. I have a Diploma in Daydreaming, which should be good news for a writer, right? Ah, if only, dear friends, if only. Sadly, I am also a Master of Procrastination and boy, is that qualification well-earned.
But here's the thing. The thingy thing is, is that I'm working on my Doctorate of Productivity. If you also have a Masters in Procrastination then you know the struggle we have when it comes to Productivity with a capital P. That’s productivity in general but we’re talking about writing right now. Write Right Now. Right now. Write. Now!
Procrastination is nothing short of an addiction. It's an addiction to immediate gratification. Why work hard and long working on your latest story when you could get immediate happy brain feels by clicking on another YouTube video of a shirtless guy in a rainforest building a mud hut in total silence? Okay, actually that one is really cool and you should totally check it out and all the rest of his videos, but...wait...what was I talking about? No. Don’t you even think about clicking that link, dammit. Come back here.
Procrastination. The thief of time, burglar of dreams, purloiner of productivity.
How do you beat it? How do you stop procrastinating and just do it, whatever it is?
You could listen to hours of advice on the topic instead of just doing (you’re procrastinating), read a hundred books on the topic instead of just doing (you’re procrastinating), but here’s the crux of all the advice out there—just do it. Sure buddy. If it were that easy, quitting caffeine, nicotine, sugar, in fact quitting any addictive substance would be as easy as “just do it.”
Sometimes we can just do it, us Masters of Procrastination. Sometimes the willpower to just do it sneaks up from out of nowhere and, hell to the yeah, you’ve just written 10,000 words in a day. Sometimes. But let’s face it, most of the time we need help and there’s no shame in that.
Me? I’m getting better. I'm down from 20 packs a day to 5, if you will. How? How have I done it? Here's how, I started by understanding that relying on willpower alone doesn’t always work. And that it’s ok to ask for help.
First off, any kind of app or program that locks you out of everything fun online or on your phone. Locks. You. Out. You want to check Tumblr once a writing session has started? Sorry, no can do. Delete the app, log out, try to wheedle your way around—it knows the way our brains work and it slaps your hand and says no. This is great if you find yourself sneaking a peak at social media every five minutes or needing to immediately check who won best supporting actor in 1973 (pro-tip: you almost never need to do that). The cheaper alternative is to ask a friend or family member to physically confiscate your phone and unplug the router.
Then what? It's not just online distractions. Maybe you're surrounded by a to-be-read pile of books that could be used to build a life size replica of the Great Pyramid. Maybe your list of movies to watch can lasso the moon. Maybe that cross-stitch you started three years ago is staring at you accusingly—you never call, you never write—and before you know it, you never write.
These are vicious sirens, determined to pull you off course into a raging current of not-doing-what-you-damn-well-sat-down-to-do. Get out, get away. If you can, find somewhere—anywhere—a room at a library, a cafe down the road, a park. Go there. All you long-time serious addicts, leave anything that can pick up a signal behind. If you can afford it, gift yourself a crappity laptop or tablet that has nothing on it but a word processing program. Nothing else. For me it’s a pad and pencil to avoid the clutter on my digital desktop.
Lastly, a support network. In the physical world, one person will do but they need to be a badass. They need to be able to look into your puppy-dog eyes when you’re begging for your phone back and say, “Sorry, did you hear something? It sounded like someone asking for an ass whuppin.” Someone who might be able to sit with you while you work—make you feel accountable. But also someone to encourage and tell you, “You’re doing great, kid.”
In the world of the internet finding help is more possible than ever before. Team up with another procrastinator and vow to make each other accountable. Can you find a group that schedules write-ins? If everyone is writing then you have to as well. Never underestimate the power of positive peer-pressure.
As you can see, I'm not addressing those wonderful people who can just do it. They’re out there—hello—and all power to them. But no, I'm talking to you. You know who you are. You've read all the things about procrastination. You've taken notes. You made a spreadsheet and spent hours on the borders and colours. You did it because you had something else you should have been doing.
This is for you.
Now stop watching that seventeenth reaction video to series four of Sherlock and write, damn you, write. Now!
Dimitra Stathopoulos is a working scientist working on getting her doctorate in productivity. She hopes to help you do the same.
When Getting Off Your Ass Means Getting On It
Shhhh. Listen. Can you hear it? The whisper?
Lean closer. A bit more. Yes, now do you hear it? It's one word. It's a strange word, six-letter that kind of sound like a code.
It is. It's a code to getting yourself moving, writing. Meredith Spies shares the word with us in her essay. Listen carefully. She's whispering…
"Would you share teeny tips for making yourself write right now?" we begged on Twitter, and here are some of the fine, fine answers.
"I'm Writing Right Now!"
By Anarion
John walked up the stairs to the living room, crossed through the kitchen calling a greeting to Sherlock and—stopped. Because Sherlock was on the sofa as he had expected, but he was hanging upside down, head almost on the carpet and feet on the headrest. This was unexpected, even for him.
Sherlock smiled a radiant smile at John, then got distracted by a fly.
John quickly diagnosed his love as neither in danger nor dangerously drugged, and went to make tea. He asked his hanging Holmes if he'd sent the morning's requested information to Lestrade. Sherlock responded, “I’m writing right now!”
This was as obvious and as bad a lie as Sherlock had ever told because he was by now lying on his back, legs in the air, balancing his laptop on his feet.
John decided to call Mycroft, who, when informed of the situation, barked out an honest-to-God laugh. John adjusted his defcon warning from ‘Help, I think my boyfriend has been body-swapped’ to ‘Fuck, everybody's been replaced by aliens, I am the only survivor, and there might also be zombies.’
Finally Mycroft was able to explain, without giggling, that Sherlock’s current case-related experiment contained various intriguing sedatives.
It turned out that a mellow Sherlock was indeed unusual, but it was still an adorable Sherlock in that upside-down body.
This 221B—a tiny Sherlockian story of two hundred and twenty-one words, the final word starting with B—was brought to you by the incomparable Anarion.
Spark is interviewing prolific pod fic creators Aranel Parmadil and Lockedinjohnlock. We want to find out what recording tools they like best, how they find the silence needed to do a bang up job, and their advice for those just getting started.
Have questions about podficcing? Ask us and we'll ask them!

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