Site icon Michael Wheatley

Exercise Three: Friends and Foes

The Art of Writing Fiction Michael Wheatley

For the third exercise, Cowan continues to foster awareness of what’s helping and what’s hindering your writing by suggesting you make two separate lists: one of your ‘friends’ (everything which encourages your writing), and one of your ‘foes’ (everything which discourages it).

The intention here would appear not to be having side by side comparisons, but only to help determine what is beneficial when creating your ideal writing environment and what to remove.

My friends and foes are:

My partner
The Bibliobuffers (my writing group)
The narcissistic gratification of social media
My broken Parker pen
My Masters place
A shower
Horror literature
My completed degree
My writing

The narcissistic dissatisfaction of social media
My actual room
A sofa
Poor attention span

Looking at my lists there appears to be two main trends: sentimentality and peace (sounding like a life guru now). My partner, my friends, and my broken pen (great band name) are all emotional attachments which fill me with self-belief, whilst the candles and the lack of noise allow me to concentrate. My foes, meanwhile, largely equate to a poor environment and mindset: the very things the previous two exercises have been geared towards removing.

From these lists, and following the two previous exercises, I should now be able to make an ideal writing environment: an environment which I can enter and immediately start to write (or daydream a bit and then write). As I suggested in Exercise One, this should eliminate the need for ‘inspiration’.

Cowan writes: ‘This is partly so that you don’t come to depend upon the gift of inspiration, which may strike when you are least ready, or may never strike, or may in fact require you to be fully immersed in the process of writing and rewriting before it can find you’. For me, inspiration always seems to strike when I lay down in bed a 2am and don’t want to get up. It’s hardly the ideal time for the writing urge.



While each of these posts has now been written at a similar time (the afternoon: surprisingly my sleeping pattern is okay right now), I am ready to create a scheduled writing routine. More than anything, I’m ready to move ahead from this schedule-based chapter into the more practical exercises: I’m ready to write.

Tomorrow: Creating the Routine


Missed yesterday’s post? Find it here.

Exit mobile version