Professor Wu's Rulebook

The hard truth: it’s time to finish writing that novel you’ve been working on


Ah yes. The summer. The evenings are long, sultry and glorious; workloads are diminishing (at least in Europe, anyway); and the possibilities are endless. Now is the perfect time to finish writing that novel you’ve been working on. Definitely. Right now. This evening. Maybe this weekend. Maybe on vacation. Definitely soon, though. Very definitely almost right now is when you’ll be able to get past that first impasse – Chapter One – and empty the entire contents of your linguistic genius down on paper (or, more accurately, Microsoft Word).

Maybe you’ll also finish reading that prohibitively long novel, too! Wouldn’t that be good? Besides, there’s only so many times you can read the first seven pages of Ulysses, before getting distracted by something important like the vacuuming.

Of course, when it comes to finish writing the novel you’ve been working on, it’s easier said than done. But maybe – just maybe – this summer is going to offer you the inspiration you need to start writing.

Summer changes us. Boundaries blur; borders relax. In the space opened up by these currents, a hope remains that we might fudge something through our own sluggish systems. The stilted, listless lassitude of days drenched in summer sunshine presents opportunity to relax, yes, and take stock of our lives (which is important, of course); but it also opens up new possibilities for real action – not simply contemplation. If Jack Kerouac can write On the Road during three short weeks in 1951, then maybe you can write your own little masterpiece on your summer holidays – or at least get a significant amount of writing done.

There are plenty of calls to action these days. If you’re in need of motivation or inspiration, then you need only watch Shia LaBeouf’s speech on YouTube, or look at endless ‘motivation and inspiration’ posts on Instagram (or, if you’re in the mood for motivating quotes that will send you into a deep existential crisis, there’s always a David Foster Wallace Motivation Twitter account that can serve you well). Unfortunately, however, simply listening to a call to action isn’t, actually, enough. You have to act on it. And that’s the hard part.


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