The people at TLC have asked me to give you some kind of top ten tips or a ‘To Do’ list for getting through Like The Prose, but that feels a little bit like teaching my grandmother to suck eggs. Therefore, instead, I compiled a “To Don’t” list.
1) Don’t Forget:
It starts on May 31 at 22:00. There will be reminder emails and tests of the submission system and all sorts of things to prepare you. And yet, in this world we live in now, I find myself unable to remember what day it is, why I went upstairs and what my name is. I like to call it Lockdown Brain and it’s an actual scientific thing. It’s also pretty annoying and no-one wants to start Like The Prose by forgetting to do the brief on Day 1, right?
2) Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself:
See above – Lockdown Brain is real, people! Even if you’ve done the challenges before, even if you’ve been writing every day for years, there is always the very real possibility that you’ll find yourself stuck with no ideas and no inspiration. One of the main things about all the challenges that TLC run is that they want you to have fun with it and not be stressed. I will readily admit that pretty much everything I wrote for the Metamorphosis challenge was bad, but it was worth it to be part of the action again. And there’s always tomorrow, right?
3) Don’t let it take over:
You still need to eat, wash, exercise and generally be a functioning human being. We all have about a hundred different ‘real-life’ things that need our time and attention. Sometimes if you come away from the writing and do some washing, take a shower, pop to the shops, etc., it can help your brain switch off and come up with that good idea that was just out of reach a moment ago.
4) Don’t over-think:
Go with your gut. What idea popped into your head as you read the brief? What character came to mind or started to speak to you? Why not just go with it and see where it takes you? You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Write first, edit later and see where that amazingly creative mind of yours will take you today.
5) Don’t keep quiet about it:
Tell friends, tell family, tell the cat… tell everyone! Sometimes it helps to have your own little cheerleading squad to keep you on track and remind you that doing this challenge is a pretty awesome thing that not everyone can or would do. Whether it’s in person, through Zoom or on TLC social medias and the Forum, it can be fun and helpful to share your thoughts, hopes, successes and failures. We’re all ticking off the days together.
6) Don’t bunk off:
Even if your story for that day consists of some kind of short and sweet rant about life, the universe and everything – get it written, hit submit and move on. Tomorrow is another brief and even the worst idea could turn into a good one when you look at it again later.
7) Don’t not:
Writing is hard at the best of times and this really isn’t the best of times. But if you sit down and write something you can take yourself away on a magical trip to meet new people, travel to new places and immerse yourself in the wonder that comes from writing. Each one of us has 30 brand new stories inside us, just waiting to be set free. Exciting thought, right?
8) Don’t be put off by briefs:
If you don’t like the brief, don’t respond to it. Write something completely different. All that matters is that you write a complete story in a day, the briefs are there to inspire and not to... uhm… dispire you.
9) Don’t forget to hit ‘send’:
If you’re doing the Timed Route, don’t forget to send it in on time. There are confirmation emails, and a message comes up on the screen to confirm that it’s been received, if the website doesn’t work, there’s also a chat option and you can send it on there, and if all else fails, you can always email it to the TLC team.
Just don’t forget… (see point 1 again)