Tough Decisions

by | March 6, 2020 | General | 6 comments

By Ashley Lister

Further to the vow I made last month, to plot and structure the story that I’ve been busily not writing, I think I’ve now reached an impasse.

In How to Become a Successful Author, Russell Nohelty shrewdly points out that ‘not every idea needs to be made.” I read this point several times, not sure I’d previously considered such a dramatic approach to creativity. It has always been my personal policy, with every idea to enter my tiny mind, that I needed to work on until it is successfully written, polished and published.

But Nohelty’s comment hit a chord. He explains that “ideas are like petulant children,” because of the way they demand your attention. He goes on to explain that one of the most important skills to learn as a creator is which idea to develop and which idea to ignore.

On reflection, I can see this doctrine of judicious pruning is something I’ve accepted in several other areas of my life. I’ve cut down on jogging in the park because it’s a high impact activity that wrecks my knees and ankles. I can achieve the same levels of cardiovascular exercise in the gym on machines such as the cross-trainer or the stair-mill without making my joints hurt like I’ve been involved in a remake of Misery.

Similarly, whilst I can appreciate it would be a great idea to combine my favourite flavours into a sandwich, so that I can consume something that satisfies my desire for sweet and savoury treats, I have been sufficiently prudent not to treat myself to a chocolate and bacon sandwich.

Which means, the current WiP is going to be pigeon-holed and I’m going to focus on something more worthy of my time.

I suppose there have been clues that this step was necessary. I would sit in front of the PC, open the latest version of the story I was trying to write, and then immediately stand up and walk to the kitchen to get a beverage or snack.

And then there have been evenings when I’ve sat down at the WiP, told myself I need to get on with it, and then yawned and spent an evening with Netflix. I should have seen that displacement activity as a warning.

So, this month’s firm decision is that, to go forward, I need to abandon the current WiP. I’m not deleting it. I’m simply putting it on hold whilst I work on something that needs to be made. And I’d sincerely like to thank Russell Nohelty for his astute advice.


Ashley Lister

Ashley Lister is a UK author responsible for more than two-dozen erotic novels written under a variety of pseudonyms. His most recent work, a non-fiction book recounting the exploits of UK swingers, is his second title published under his own name: Swingers: Female Confidential by Ashley Lister (Virgin Books; ISBN: 0753513439) Ashley’s non-fiction has appeared in a variety of magazines, including Forum, Chapter & Verse and The International Journal of Erotica. Nexus, Chimera and Silver Moon have published his full-length fiction, with shorter stories appearing in anthologies edited by Maxim Jakubowski, Rachel Kramer Bussel and Mitzi Szereto. He is very proud to be a regular contributor to ERWA.


  1. Frank Wiegers

    Been there. Done that.

    • Ashley Lister

      Cheers Frank. It’s not an easy decision, is it?


  2. Lisabet sarai

    Hi, Ash,

    I dunno, chocolate and bacon sounds interesting…

    However, I agree that you can’t force an idea to blossom before its time. Which could, of course, be never. Don’t lose them, though. I just starting working on a book I originally had the idea for back in 2014. I just wasn’t ready to tackle it then.

    • Ashley Lister


      It’s sitting in a folder that I shall dip into in the future. As you say, some ideas are ahead of their time x


  3. Rupert ramsgate

    You cannot force a story out when the characters are not speaking to you. I have learned that sometimes you have to put a story down and move onto something else. If the story has any substance, you will eventually return to it.

  4. Lisa Stone

    keep on creating!

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