Watercooler Wed: 3 Yoda-isms for writers


Welcome to Watercooler Wednesday, where the water is above-average, the topics are bubbly, and the company is sparkling.

Now that NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) has begun, many crazy people writers are willingly disrupting their lives, sneaking peeks at their WIPs during their day jobs, imposing upon testy patient family members, and imbibing large quantities of caffeine.  While I’m not one of them, they are certainly inspiring to watch!

So inspiring, in fact, that it’s time to share the:


3 Yoda-isms for Writers

…who better than the Jedi Master himself to guide the misguided valiant wielders of lightsabers pens?

image via soundcloud.com

Yoda-ism #1:

“Size matters not.” (All right, you romance writers out there, stop snickering)

Sure, easy enough for a pointy-eared little green dwarf who can twirl and jump faster than a Sikorsky helicopter to say, but what about us writers?  You know, we humble folk with a Klout score of 15 and 5 Facebook fan page “likes” (and Mom being one of them)?  Don’t we need Klout, Facebook and Twitter for writing?

Nope.  Not for the writing.

It’s you, your keester in the chair, the computer, and a power connection.  That’s it.  NYTBS James Rollins has to smack his derriere in the chair, just like the rest of us, in order to make his word count for the day/week/millenium.  Sure, social media and writer support are absolutely beneficial, and important for making connections to readers, but it has never been about numbers.  There are people on the other side of the numbers, after all.  Just about everyone dipping his/her toe in the twitterverse/blogosphere has had the experience of ONE fabulous reader comment or tweet making their day.

Also keep in mind that the NaNoWriMo-ers are practically ignoring the internet this month.  Why?  Because they need to get busy, alone.  (Although I hope they’ll have time to read Yoda’s final words of wisdom).


Yoda-ism #2:

“Anger leads to hate.  Hate leads to suffering.”

This one is for all of you folks who are fighting with a character who will NOT cooperate, or have just re-read yesterday’s 2,000 hard-fought words and realize they totally suck.

You gave up watching “Hawaii Five-O” to write totally horrid, trite scenes with stilted dialogue?!  You gnash your teeth.  What a waste!

A waste?  I think NOT!  Consider it time well spent: you are merely flushing the suck-y-ness out of your writing system.  Ever prime a well-water pump?  Are you going to drink what comes out first?  Heck no – it’s brown and yucky.  But you can’t get the clear, drinkable stuff until you’ve flushed out the yuck.  Besides, there’s enough suffering in the world (and in the world of your novel, too, if you are doing your job).  Relax.

Here’s a video by YA author Maureen Johnson, titled “Dare to Suck,” that will inspire you:



Yoda-ism #3:

“Do or do not.  There is no try.”

my Latin name is Smilodon. Wonder why? Image via adrenamag.com

“Try” is a hedge against failure.  “I tried to write a novel” will get you a pat on the back (if you’re lucky) from a sympathetic family member.  Efforts are important, but why be afraid of failure?  Failure shows effort, too.    When one says “try,” the doubt is built into it already.  It’s the wincing before the expected blow comes.

But “doing” – ah, that’s hard-wired into our human DNA.  The doers survived, not the try-ers.  No early-human came back from a hunt saying “I tried to avoid being killed by a saber-toothed tiger.”

So take Yoda’s advice (not Nike’s) and just do it – and then succeed gloriously, or fail gloriously.  No fear.  (I’ve got one of those “glorious failures” on a flashdrive I can show you, lol).  Take a look at Kristen Lamb’s post Failure – the Forge of Excellence to see why failure doesn’t leave you empty-handed.



So there you have it, Yoda’s gems of wisdom.  There are more, but that’s another post.

When have you taken a risk?  How hard was it, and how did it turn out?

Good luck, NaNaoWriMo-ers!

Until next time,


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24 thoughts on “Watercooler Wed: 3 Yoda-isms for writers”

  1. Gene LemppGene Lempp

    Love this post! Timely and fun. I was thinking yesterday, while spending some BIC time that I needed a pull-string Yoda to give advice and support during the long NaNo hours. Now I have to find one for sure.

    Thanks for thinking of us (insane) hard-working NaNoites. Put a light in the window, it keeps the word zombies from raiding your garden 🙂

  2. Margot KinbergMargot Kinberg

    Kathy – Ah, the wisdom of Yoda! I love it! And I really like the way you’ve adapted those sayings for writers. I’m not doing NaNoWriMo, but still glad for this advice. I think the one that resonates with me is the last one. So many people plan to try to write a book, and it stays as a pile of notes in a hard drive because of that word, “try.”

  3. Piper BayardPiper Bayard

    Like Yoda, do I. So true. Do, or do not. There is no try. I think the only trying is in the doing, and if you’re doing your best, what more is there? Love the post, Kathy.

  4. Renee Schuls-JacobsonRenee Schuls-Jacobson

    This is so freaking awesome. And thank you for pointing out that a boatload of people will not be reading my posts this month. Better save my good stuff for December.

    Wait. Then people are gearing up for the holidays.

    Awww, crap.

    We’ll have to lean on each other, Kathy. And you know I love your watercooler.

  5. Angela QuarlesAngela Quarles

    Love it! These should be made into motivational posters!

  6. Leanne ShirtliffeLeanne Shirtliffe

    Love this!

    I’m showing my students (who are doing the Young Writers Program version of NaNo) that video next week. I gave them “it’s okay to write crap” speech on Day 1.

  7. Diane CapriDiane Capri

    Yoda — very wise little-green-pointy-eared dude. Haven’t thought of the little guy in years, but he’s about to come around again in Star Wars 3D. Excellent post. Loved it!

  8. asraidevinasraidevin

    I loved the vid. I wrote a lot of crap, I still am. I have to throw out so many partial drasfts because I realize that the idea isn’t making me care.

  9. Alicia StreetAlicia Street

    Love this post, Kathy! Great fun, and yet it gets the truth factor in there. And helps me since I’m way behind in everything right now!

  10. Sonia G MedeirosSonia G Medeiros

    I love this post!!! Especially the part about flushing the sucky out. LOL. I am totally going to print that out and stick it to my computer. Every time I hate what I’m writing, I’m going to remind myself that I’m just flushing the sucky out. The well-water image was just perfect!

  11. Kerry MeachamKerry Meacham

    Another great post, Kathy. I agree with Gene that this is timely for those of us participating in Nano. ~clink~

  12. NatalieNatalie

    Woot woot – I love it and especially number 3. Isn’t that so true. People talk about “trying” to quit smoking. Hmmm? You either quit or you don’t. You either write or you don’t. There’s no room for middle ground. Accepting less means we are defeated before we even get started.
    Fantabulous reminders. Love living life thru Yoda!

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