Losing Marbles & How to Find Them

I can’t seem to come up with a single interesting thing to blog about this Friday. This probably has something to do with the lack of a good night’s sleep and I drank too much wine yesterday.

(In my defence: it was King’s day here in The Netherlands).

So here I am, staring at my screen at work, trying to force my brain and memory to think of something. Anything.

And then: Poof. My brain brought me this title 🙂 . I really like this idiom, it has a nice ring to it. And I find it funny that little glass balls are associated with the brain. As a child I had many marbles, and treated the precious pretty colourful glass making chiming sounds in my pockets, like jewels. But I’m getting a bit of topic here. You see when I was writing this paragraph I stumbled on something worth sharing.

What do you do when you’ve got no idea where to go with your story? When you feel you’re a lousy writer about to lose his or her marbles? When ideas that often come easy are nowhere to be seen?

The answer is shockingly simple. You just keep on keeping on. Write words you’re sure you are going to delete later. Write a blogpost with a strange title and keep writing until something (anything) makes sense.

The only writing advice I stick by is that you should find a process that works for you.

So dear fellow writer, if you’ve lost your marbles, chase them down, put them in your pockets. And write.

And if you can’t find them, write anyway.

Perfecting Postponing

I was going to write this blogpost the day before yesterday, but then I was too busy and when I wasn’t busy anymore I was too tired. Yesterday I had to work, and after work, I’d a couple of drinks with some friends and when I got home my computer stopped doing what I wanted it to do. Today I was supposed to get back to editing my story but instead postponed that to write this blogpost.

And I couldn’t help but wonder: WHY DO I DO THIS?

A quick internet survey gives me some insight in why I’m constantly doing things I shouldn’t be doing, delaying projects, taking procrastination to a higher level, and so on.

What The Internet tells me is that Postponing is WRONG. You should be getting THINGS DONE. And if you’re not doing them you need to assess your life goals, get your priorities straight.

I think the Internet has it wrong. Because I like Postponing

It’s not that I never finish something. I have these weekly bursts of energy in which I can clean the whole house, write three chapters, answers ALL boring work emails and more.

I think I have a deadline addiction


Would it stress me out less if I had a tight schedule and stuck to it?


Would it make things easier?


So Irene, why don’t you make a schedule/ stick to it/ stop postponing?




I don’t need to stop postponing, I just need to perfect it.

Having a tight schedule and sticking to it feels somewhat like this:


I work at the Research Cardiology department and I can assure you, this is not good. It means your heart has no electric circuit keeping you alive. A normal rhythm looks like this:


See all the ups and downs? This is what I want my postponing behavior to look like. Some giant spikes in productivity, some-postponing-doing-nothing-in-particular- downs. Tiny sparks of doing things, followed by periods of doing nothing.

Postponing is not a problem if it’s a rhythm that works.







A Short (& Slightly) Melodramatic Post on Editing

So I wrote this mess of a story.

Lots of words, but not enough and probably not the right ones. Plot holes around every corner, characters doing not- interesting stuff to/with other not-interesting characters. No description or too much of it. And of course : clichés that will make you cringe. I’m at that point that I’ve read the first chapters so many times, I not only lost all objectivity but every single word seems wrong somehow.

But amidst all this misery there’s an occasional gem. A sentence exactly right, a character delightfully wicked, a story element just waiting to be picked up.

So I’m gradually moving along, endlessly deleting, putting whole scenes in The Folder of Lost Words, hoping they will still fit somewhere but knowing they probably won’t. Making up new things that will inevitably cause so many many problems further up the road.

Chapter four, here I come. Such fun this editing thing.


Amber Tides

Is the name of a special lemonade at the Pulitzer bar in Amsterdam.

(You know you are a writer at heart when you want to steal the drinks menu, because it contains a lot of potential chapter titles).

While sipping this peachy, bubbly, lemon drink and poking the ice cubes with a straw, I listened to the conversation around me. Co-workers chatting about work, family, food and the cool place we were in.

And I wondered what my MC would do in a place like this. Who would she meet? What drink would she pick? Did she like mint? For a moment reality and the world of story perfectly one.

Until, of course, someone asked me a question and I was grounded again in present day Amsterdam.

Writing every day, even if it’s in short sips of time, makes the edges of reality blurry.

That state of mind is what I love about writing. It gives flavour to sound, and colour to taste.

It makes drinks into titles.