3 Rules for Pretending to Be a Writer

I hear the boys playing in one of the bedrooms. Their voices are confident as they navigate an imaginary world in which they are the protectors against all manner of evil.

Since their guns are only plastic and their battle zone is really a 10-year-olds’ bedroom with a Star Wars comforter and Legos on the shelf, they announce their actions and describe for each other their surroundings. They say things like, “I come around the corner and then you see me.” Or “I’m loading my gun while you are running ahead into the building.”

As I head into the bedroom, I remember the Neil Gaiman quote that I have drawn on so much in my writing life lately, the one where he tells a woman to “pretend that she was someone who could do it” when faced with a task she wasn’t sure how to tackle. “Not pretend to do it,” he clarifies in Make Good Art, “but pretend she was someone who could. She put up a notice to this effect on the studio wall, and she said it helped.”

Lately, I’ve been wondering what it might look like to apply those “rules of pretending” that children know so well in their play to my writing life, to pretend to be a writer who knows how to develop a sustainable career.

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