Rogue Ink

May 29, 2008

Save your world. Write.

Yesterday, we talked about procrastination, and why it works. Because when you get down to those last few minutes, you know you have to write, you have to finish. This works great for me, but that is because I have a hero complex. Come along. We’re about to geek out.

The Hero Syndrome

I know a lot of people who cannot handle the pressure of a last-minute deadline. I was one of them when I was small. The thing is, I need an impetus, a push. I need a reason to write, and I realize that there are a good many romantics who consider breathing to be a good enough reason to write, and I hope that they all make lovely poetry somewhere, preferably at the top of a tree where I can’t hear them. I choose to not be a poet. I think the whole pen-and-sword thing started because writers need to believe themselves heroes in order to get any work done, ever.

If you don’t get the writing done, horrible things will befall you. The rent won’t get paid, you’ll starve, you’ll have to subject yourself to the horrible tyrant at the Widget Factory and be chained to a cubicle and have fluorescent lights shined in your eyes forever. The weight of the world is on your shoulders. You are the only one who can get it done. You are the chosen one. You are the ring-bearer, Frodo. You are the hero. You are the child, Bastion. Save us. The force is strong within you. There is no one else. You, and only you, can keep your world spinning.

Think. Fast.

You have to think. Shutting your eyes and jumping only works at the very last moment, just before the explosion happens and you’re shot across the atmosphere in a very cool movie still. Before that happens, there’s a moment of inspiration. Listen to it. What are you going to do? What are the first words going to be? You have to decide, and you have to decide now. There’s just no more time.

Make the decision and stick with it. No time for waffling. If you figure out something brilliant halfway through, you can change tactics, because that is the privilege of the hero. If some magical connection suddenly clicks into place, spin around and go in that direction. You’ve already started. You’re a man of action. (Or a woman, but seriously, being all PC totally ruins the rhythm of these things. We have to GO, people. There’s only five minutes left.)

Don’t look up.

The girl is crying, the sidekick is babbling, lightning is flashing, big explosions are exploding and someone nameless is screaming in the street. There’s probably an adorable puppy whimpering somewhere. Don’t look up, don’t you dare. No distractions matter at this moment, because the clock is running out. Whatever you do, don’t look up. Don’t check Twitter, don’t look at your email, don’t answer the phone. There’s no time for that. You’re writing.

Don’t stop.

If you stop, you’ll fall down. If you stop, you’ll stop forever. If you stop, Mount Doom will open cracks below your feet and it will always be winter in Narnia and the Nothing will eat Fantasia. You cannot stop. Keep writing, keep putting words one after another. Your words are your footsteps. You can correct them to keep yourself from falling down, but don’t ever stop putting one foot in front of the other. One word, another word, keep moving, keep going.


I swear, nothing was ever so powerful as being a hero, ever. I got myself a big hourglass at the Z Gallerie just because it was the coolest, most romantic thing I’d ever seen. It measures out, shockingly enough, one hour, which is a good unit of time to get something significant done. A press release, your web content, the first five pages of your short story. Reach out. Turn the glass over. Start running, start writing. This is your world, and you save it every day. John Steinbeck said something amazing that is my official writer’s mantra. It goes:

“The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.”

My time’s up. Subscribe now, or the world will end.



  1. Thanks for this. My work is sitting there stale because I’m having trouble believing in the 4 chapters I wrote.

    Comment by sweetiegirlz — May 29, 2008 @ 4:13 am | Reply

  2. Ah, this is a wonderful post, with a great rhythm 🙂 I can just see that hourglass now as I flick between my emails and surfing blogland – clearly as a treat for writing another chapter – which was only a page and really I should keep going but decided not to and now I feel guitly so I’m going to go now…

    Comment by Simonne — May 29, 2008 @ 4:36 am | Reply

  3. YES!! Fucking powerful, Tei. I feel totally ready to take on the world…and yet over here it’s 12:32 am and I need to get to bed. Goddammit! Why does this always happen to me? If I didn’t have a little family and things called clients that needed attention during the day, I’d sleep all day and work at night.

    PS. Including the fact you referenced three of my favourite books (or series) of all time, this was a PERFECT post. I loved it. Talk about bang on and inspiring. The rhythm was wonderful, too. You’ve got it going on, girl. As a writer, you totally know what’s up.

    Your fan,

    Comment by Steph — May 29, 2008 @ 4:37 am | Reply

  4. I got a timer to do that- why the hell didn’t I think to get an hourglass? What is wrong with me? I’m getting one tomorrow after reading this.

    Comment by LS — May 29, 2008 @ 4:59 am | Reply

  5. Dunno why you’re still around writing to *us* Tei… Or at least me. I feel like Wayne & Garth doing the whole “we’re not worthy” thing. If your little Stats Globlin isn’t drawing Mt Everest right now, you should just kick him.

    @Simonne *waves* Hi Perth Friend!

    Comment by Sunili — May 29, 2008 @ 5:27 am | Reply

  6. You guys are great. This is my writing compliment day. It’s the best day ever.

    Sweetiegirlz: Believe! You are the Highlander!

    Simonne: Go forth! Write! Be awesomesauce!

    Sugar dumpling: I stuck Star Wars in there too. My brother just pointed out its conspicuous absence.

    LS: Word. Z Gallerie. They’re about $20.

    Sunili: Aw, thanks. It isn’t, but I’m trying. I’m getting my website together and then we’ll have digg and things of that nature. I expect some serious diggy love over here.

    Comment by Tei — May 29, 2008 @ 5:51 am | Reply

  7. Tei,

    I don’t know what you do for a living, but I want an hourglass Bad.

    Oh, yeah, you save babies from explosions, right? With awesome copywriting? Cool job.

    I love this post!

    Favorite part:
    “… there’s a moment of inspiration. Listen to it. What are you going to do? What are the first words going to be? You have to decide….” I do that All. The. Time.

    Wardrobe in the morning? I seriously can’t pick clothes the night before ’cause I have to stand in my closet and listen to what speaks to me. Next post for blog? I write 20 or so half-bakers a week, then a night or two in advance I “listen” to them all and see what wants to be finished. The backlog I have of unfinished posts is a bit insane. They don’t all have time to whisper in my ear. Brainstorming for new client? Empty head of all conscious thought, then listen to the inspirations.

    Maybe I’m just practicing for going crazy. Thinking of it as hero complex is kinda better. 😉

    Never heard of a Z Gallerie, so I’m going to have to listen to the hourglasses now and see if they’ll tell me where to shop for them over here in DE.



    Comment by Kelly — May 29, 2008 @ 10:18 am | Reply

  8. Love, love, love this article. I can’t stop reading it again and again cuz girl, your words just speak to me. They pull me into their own world and I’m lost, drowning in the sea of uber-awesomeness and I don’t want to get out just yet. I find myself nodding at every line, pumping my fists to the air crying out, “YES! YES!” (in a non-sexual way of course) because I can understand, I can empathize, I can so totally relate to what you say that you must never stop because the words themselves will be gone – kaput! outta your world faster than the road runner can say “beep! beep!”. And you’ve just referenced some serious heavy hitter fantasy favorites of mine and for that I truly love you!

    Comment by ksyu — May 29, 2008 @ 11:09 am | Reply

  9. I am hero.

    Watch my sword flash in the sunshine as I swirl it through the air, slicing cleanly through nothing while I laugh in pleasure at simply being strong and alive.

    I am hero.

    Comment by James Chartrand - Men with Pens — May 29, 2008 @ 11:42 am | Reply

  10. I’m down with Star Wars! (Well, except the most recent ones. Bad acting. Though I do get all fired up in a good way when Yoda gets to kick some serious ass.)

    Comment by Steph — May 29, 2008 @ 1:00 pm | Reply

  11. “There is no try, only do.” 🙂

    Comment by Steph — May 29, 2008 @ 1:01 pm | Reply

  12. Awesome post, Tei. Full-on inspiring. Stumbled.

    And I, too, need to find an hourglass now. How much would that totally rock?

    Comment by Bob Younce at the Writing Journey — May 29, 2008 @ 2:24 pm | Reply

  13. […] · No Comments Tei of Rogue Ink has just written a super uber-excellent article on writing -Save Your World. Write. It kinda works like a how-to-get-started writing article but written in such an insightful manner […]

    Pingback by Call to Adventure- The Hero’s Journey « Life Without A Compass — May 29, 2008 @ 2:30 pm | Reply

  14. […] this can’t happen. Wear the watch. Or, for a sense of urgency, get one of those hourglasses Tei’s been talking […]

    Pingback by more office tips « In Other Words — May 29, 2008 @ 3:18 pm | Reply

  15. Kelly: Nick just wrote an awesome post on going crazy over at IttyBiz. I’d link but I can’t. Go shimmy over there, it was yesterday’s post.

    Ksyu: Yay! Go rock it.

    James: Yes. Yes you are.

    Steph: Oh, I believe there is no one who will not say the old ones are just better. And that Han shot first.

    Bob: It really, really rocks.

    Comment by Tei — May 29, 2008 @ 5:09 pm | Reply

  16. Thanks, Tei –
    This is just the motivation I needed right now!
    (LOVE Steinbeck’s quote)

    Comment by Rebecca Smith — May 29, 2008 @ 7:31 pm | Reply

  17. Tei,

    I shimmied there previously, and commented. ‘Sokay that you didn’t notice me. It’s not all about me. *sniff*

    So I asked the hourglasses to talk to me, and they said “try Crate & Barrel.” They were just bustin’ my chops, as it turned out, but I did get a lovely bowl. Very moderne. With an “e” on the end and all.

    I’m seriously going to use this Internet-thingy for something more useful than what was going on at MWP, and see if I can get me an hourglass.

    Hasta luego,


    Comment by Kelly — May 29, 2008 @ 11:18 pm | Reply

  18. Tei – The rhythm and pacing in this post is absolutely masterful. And you quoted my favorite guy. Hourglass? Way cool.

    Comment by Janice Cartier — May 29, 2008 @ 11:55 pm | Reply

  19. …something more useful than what was going on at MWP…

    But we like to be useless. Glad we rose to the moment.

    @ Tei – Each day that you DON’T move your blog to the new design will make your move that much harder. You’re getting Stumbles and attention – and you’re moving. WTF ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!

    Comment by James Chartrand - Men with Pens — May 30, 2008 @ 10:31 am | Reply

  20. James,

    I do appreciate your uselessness. This time, I’m not sure rising would have been such a good idea. Ahem.



    Comment by Kelly — May 30, 2008 @ 7:57 pm | Reply

  21. […] or maybe you need to stop trying to be liked and start being you. Don’t forget you can save your world. Write. And read! You may discover the productivity secret of positivity and gratitude, or if you are very […]

    Pingback by Mix it up for fun and inspiration » at Beyond IBD: transcending chronic illness — May 31, 2008 @ 11:42 am | Reply

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