Tell Arnopp!

Happy New Year, sir/madam/charming combination of the two.

I've been thinking about this idea for a while. Might not work at all, but there's no harm in seeing if it's of interest.

We writers are often solitary beasts. Very few people understand what we do. Even our nearest and dearest people often struggle to get it. They're broadly supportive, but if someone sat them down and asked exactly what we do, they'd probably find themselves coming up short.

As a result, writers - especially new writers - can struggle to find motivation. It can seem like they're typing away in a void. After a while, that question rears up in the back of the mind: "What difference does it make if I write today or not? Who will know or care?". Of course, motivation has to come from within. You have to sit down and write, as if the whole world is going to care. But a little help with motivation never goes amiss.

Some writers use blogs and/or Twitter as a way of telling the world how many pages or words they've bashed out. That's fine, but not everyone is that forthcoming in a public space.

So here's the idea. At the end of each writing day, drop me an e-mail and tell me how much writing you've done that day.

There are only three rules. And the first one isn't strictly even a rule.

1) I won't be able to reply to you. I will, however, read all e-mails. So you know that somewhere in my brain is the information that, for instance, you've written 10 pages of your World War II drama. And if you stop writing to tell me about a project's progress, you'll know that somewhere in my brain, I know that you didn't finish it and will be pointing an accusatory finger at you from afar.

2) This one's vital: Please don't tell me anything about your story's content. Not one thing. E-mails which start to tell me anything about the story you're writing will be regretfully deleted straight away - as will anything with an attachment. Or anything which isn't Telling Me What You've Written Today. Or messages kindly offering me Viagra. I'm sure you realise this, but this rule isn't because I don't care about your story - it's to protect me legally. Tell me the genre if you like, but that's not necessary.

So to sum up this rule: telling me "I've written ten pages of my World War II drama today" is great. Telling me "I've written ten pages of my World War II drama today - it's about the effects of the war on a family in Chiswick" is not. Just for the absolute avoidance of doubt: by sending your message to tell me you're writing a World War II drama, for instance, you agree not to be mad enough to cry "Rip off!" if I happen to also write a World War II drama, somewhere down the line. (I refuse to believe anyone would be this mad, but you never know.)

3) Please only tell me how much you've written - not how much you're planning to write that day.  Results are all that matters!

So if you're determined to start the New Year with a full head of steam, and would like someone to know what kind of progress you're making - in either scripts, prose or anything else creative - then Tell Arnopp is the 'service' for you! Tell me as often as you like - every day, once a week, once a month, whatever helps. This should be interesting - I may receive no e-mails whatsoever, but I have a feeling a few people might like it.

What's the e-mail address? It's 'TellArnopp at gmail dot com'. Starting now.

Use it only for good.


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Anonymous said...

First impressions: it's a bit on the negative side - all the rules are about what you WON'T do and what this ISN'T which is not really what I thought this might be about. I'm not expecting a counselling service and probably no-one else is either but the one thing I don't need is a black hole into which my progress reports would vanish if I chose to send them to you. What is the point?
I think you have a nice idea based on a sound premise but I think it might be missing the sweet spot.
Only my opinion. I've been known to get it wrong - 1965, I think it was... :)

Anonymous said...

yay! you are so cool.

William Gallagher said...

I will regret saying this, perhaps quite shortly as today is looking bad for writing work, but I think this is a tremendous idea.

William Gallagher said...

It occurs to me that you could set up a rule or just some auto-reply that means we really, really know you've got it and we haven't, say, mistyped the address again.

Not that I've just done this. I don't know what you mean. Stop looking at me like that.

lipsticklori said...

Great plan! I tried to motivate my readers to finish creative projects by saying I'd check up on them... then I forgot. Just saying "I'll know you've not finished it" is a far better idea :-)