The Writing Spark

A few years ago I was out driving with my wife and daughter when the car stopped. I don’t know much about cars, but I could tell it definitely wasn’t working. So, I walked about a kilometre to get mobile phone signal (stupid phone), then called the RACQ, which is the roadside assistance club where I’m from.

While we waited, I was having a poke around under the bonnet and discovered that there was a spark plug missing. I don’t really know where it went, but there was a hole where it should have been. (I at least know that much about cars.) I went wandering back up the road to see if I col see it, but of course, didn’t have any luck.

So the RACQ guy finally arrives and he doesn’t have a spark plug that will fit. So up onto the tow truck and back into town. But we know what the problem is, right, so the local mechanic will have it sorted out in a jiffy…


So the car is dropped off and I head into the garage and tell of our woe. The mechanic dutifully gets out his little book and consults the relevant page. He consults with his sidekick. And the two of them mosey out to the storeroom to see what they can find. Five minutes later, and they have the bonnet up on the car and are looking at the hole for the plug.

Sorted in ten seconds, right?


They look at the hole. They look at the spark plug. They look back at the hole.

“Might fit,” the mechanic says.

“Could do,” his sidekick agrees.

They look at the spark plug again. And back at the hole.

The mechanic nods. “Looks about the right size.”

The sidekick cocks his head to one size and looks at the hole, as if the change of angle might bring forth more exact measurements. “Could be right.” He looks back at the plug.

This goes on for five minutes. Seriously. They look at the spark plug and the hole and talk about weather it will fit. It goes on for so long that I eventually say, “Why don’t you just try it?”

The two guys turn to look at me as if I might be some type of potted plant that had suggested they try marrying someone other than their sister. But the mechanic nods and tries to fit the spark plug into the hole.

And guess what… It didn’t fit. No, actually, it did. Slipped into the hole and screwed in as easy as can be.

And what is the point of recounting this story?

Just bloody try it. If you want to do something, don’t spend all day talking about it and thinking about it– not if you can’t actually hurt anything by trying.

A lot of would-be writers out there talk about starting their book all the time. Well, give it a go and find out. It’ll take a week at most to find out if you really have the writing of a book in you. (And then they might shut the hell up with their, “I could write a book” crap.) A lot of already-writers talk about trying something different. Don’t talk about it, just give it a go. It will take considerably less than a week for a real writer to find out if something is going to work or not.

A lot of the time, standing around thinking about it will just bring into focus all the reasons why you shouldn’t, not the reasons why you should. Do you want to know why? Because there are plenty of reasons why you shouldn’t but only a couple of reasons why you should. But those couple of reasons are damn good ones.


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