Making tiny carnival masks


Yes, but why? 


Every so often I get overwhelmed by the prospect of writing a book.

I’m at one of those stages right now. I have about twenty half-baked ideas for stories jostling around in my head and I can’t pick one.

Which one has legs? Which one is worth several months of research and deep thought, followed by months of late nights and wrestling with plot holes and cursing and elation and guilt and joy?

I don’t know.

I wouldn’t call this writer’s block. I’d call it writer’s custard. It’s feels gooey and opaque. Very disorienting.

I started to feel a bit stink about it. I felt I should be working on the next book by now. I frequent some writers’ Facebook groups and the people are lovely and supportive, but they’re also saying things like ‘my goal for 2018 is to publish six books’ and ‘my goal is write a blog post every day’.

Now, I know it’s dumb to compare yourself to other writers. I know that. But it’s so easy to fall into the trap, isn’t it? To think, ‘Six books!? I’d be glad to write one! OMG I’d better get going!’ and that subtle, insidious pressure begins to grow, and you start to get tension headaches because you’re not writing, and of course the harder you try to force an idea, the less the ideas come.

So, I decided the best thing was to make tiny carnival masks for make-believe creatures.


Not entirely reliable, but not really malicious.


Publishers don’t want masks that are approximately 4cm across. No, they don’t. There’s no market for them. But that’s the point. I wanted to do something playful and pointless. Something that would let me enjoy a silly act of creation with no expectations attached. Because I hope that by letting myself play, I will let my mind run free. I can start thinking ‘what if?’. I can stop stressing and have fun – and then, soon, I hope, the next writing project will become obvious.

How do you decide what your next writing project should be? Do you crochet daleks or whittle squids? Or maybe you have a completely different approach to the decision-making process? Please let me know in the comments below – I’d like to try your tactics!


  1. When I started writing the novel that I’m still (!) working on, I had another in mind. It was a supernatural story that I could have had a lot of fun with. However, my current one is the story I felt compelled to write. Could you feel like that with any of the twenty or so ideas you have? As for goals, Lee, you and I both know that that’s all they are. They haven’t reached the net and may never do. Just you get on with your own work and leave other people to their dreams. As for the tiny carnival masks … they’re brilliant, I love them! I think you do right to take some time out to play and have some enjoyment doing something creative.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree about the sense of compulsion – I had that with the previous stories I’ve written. I think that’s what I’m waiting for – an idea that begs to be written, that makes me rub my hands together with glee. I have sort of had that with a couple of the ideas, but when I examined them closely, they didn’t seem so awesome. I think perhaps I’ll give myself another fortnight, say, and then just pick the best idea I’ve got and write it anyway. I know ideas develop as you write them. And as for goals – I know, I know! You’re so right! I also know some people pick really ambitious goals knowing they’ll fall short, but figuring it’s better to aim high. Anyway, I am trying very hard not to fall into the comparison trap. And I’m glad you like the tiny masks 😁


  2. Playful and pointless is good. You don’t know me, and I don’t know you — although now that I’m commenting, we’re not quite such strangers 🙂 — but I would never have clicked on the post if it hadn’t been for the tiny carnival masks. I think I’d enjoy the writing of someone so creative. Me, I’ve been doing a pen and ink drawing entirely from tiny ink dots. Also playful and pointless, but oddly relaxing. As for which idea to go with, I’m kind of like Ellem63 — I went with the one I felt compelled to write. The one I wanted to read, only nobody had written it. I don’t know if that helps. I’m now on the scary month six of my novel, so no, there definitely won’t be another 5 in the next six months. Get this one published, that’s my goal.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In a way, I think all creativity is play, but it’s so easy (for me, anyway!) to cross the line from ‘how can I have fun with this story?’ to ‘this is a serious work thing and I must succeed or all is lost!’. Silly. Anyway, I think making the tiny masks helped because I picked an idea and am now in the researching/planning/brainstorming phase and my head is full of secret lost libraries and magicians battling with demons and fun things like that. If you’re six months in to your novel that’s great going! How long does it usually take you to write one? Or is this your first?


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