In 2008, Roald Dahl was placed 16th on “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945” list. Indeed, his impressive life not only lead him to be a famous writer, but also a notorious WWII soldier. With over 50 books published in various fields (children books, adults novels, screenplays, etc.) in less than 50 active years, and over 200 million copies sold worldwide, the writer did manage to do a quite great job. Indeed, his productivity is impressive. This charismatic, yet annoying man has taught me life-lessons as a child, but also working tips I am going to share with you today.
Roald Dahl’s Example
1 – Never Give Up
Roald Dahl was a perfectionist. Although he did not have confidence issues, he wasn’t arrogant either. When he started writing a book, he would never give it up, or walk away if he felt stuck. Instead, he would stay longer in order to figure out what he was going to say next. He was not afraid of failure, nor was he of hard work.
Roald Dahl was so picky with his stories, that half-way through his book Matilda, he stopped everything and rewrote every single word. Giving up just wasn’t a thing. He would stop writing when he knew what to write, and persevere when he felt like stopping. It was, for the first case, a way to feel joy when coming back to his work, and for the second one a way to overcome writing difficulties. His self-discipline was spectacular.
2 – Trigger Your Creativity
Although imagination isn’t a scarce resource, it can be difficult, at times, to find inspiration, or motivation – or even worse, to know what to write about. Roald Dahl described the action of writing as a walk through the mountains. ‘You go on like that, day after day, getting different views of the same landscape really, and the highest mountain on the walk is obviously the end of the book because it’s got to be the best view of all’.
Roald Dahl explained that a book idea starts from a very small seed. It simply is an idea caught out of nothing which you write down to observe all of its aspects. As writing a book can be a matter of years, before really digging into it, you must try to feel where it is going to take you.
3 – Organize Your Time
How come a man as successful, and busy as Roald Dahl was still managed to take time for his friends and family? In two words: good organization. He had this daily routine where he forced himself to work at fixed hours. He used to say that after two hours you are not at your highest peak of concentration. This is why he always worked from 10 to 12am. No matter how he felt, or what he had to do, he would stay there for two hours and write.
RELATED: Organization + Creativity = Profit
What You Can Learn From It
1 – Fantastic Mr. Fox really is fantastic
Giving up is just not a thing.
Mr Fox’ family’s life was at stake. Did he wait for the farmers to come and get them? No. First, to avoid shovels, they dug. Second, to avoid mechanical shovels, they dug even more. And when they were starving to death, they dug in a more oriented way.
Your life is not at stake when you write, but still, if you feel stuck:
- continue digging;
- think, and dig in the right direction.
Out of all the articles I have written in the past three months, almost none was ‘easy’ to write. I was always stuck at some point, with a lack of motivation or concentration, or simply because I could not figure out what to write about.
Nevertheless, I outlined each of my articles, and wrote a little of each paragraph. Then I let it pause, and started again a few hours later. Working step by step was easier than trying to give it all in one shot. A few times, I couldn’t figure out where I was going – or where I should be going. Every time this happened, I paused myself and thought ‘what is my goal and how can I reach it with this topic?’. Thinking about it, and coming back to my previous notes really helped me in overcoming the will of giving up.
Write, write every day. Make giving up just ‘not a thing’. You’ll be as Fantastic as Mr Fox!
2 – Willy Wonka can make anything happen
And so can you.
Okay, to a certain extent.
I am not talking about creating a gigantic chocolate factory, nor reaching the stars with an elevator, no. I mean, imagination can take you anywhere. Imagination is, in fact, your best asset as a writer. Whether it is used to create square sweets that look round, or to define your next marketing campaign your imagination is what serves you best.
As an individual with vivid imagination, I do not find it hard to find topics on which I would like to write about (current events, personal interests, famous figures, and personal experience are often what I target first). However, once the topic is chosen, a tough part of the article remains to design, your article’ skeleton: the outline.
Whilst for some articles it has been pretty straightforward, other times, for more complex ones, it is not as easy. I have to really think about where I want to go, and how I can do so. Just like Willy Wonka wanted a successor, and to do so, had to decide between the 5 kids, I want to give marketing tools, and to do so, use a certain figure (an event, a person…) to talk about it. The how of the process becomes a real brainstorming that can be difficult at times.
To really optimize my focus, I constantly take notes, and once I have decided to write, I don’t go back. If I am stuck, I re-read my notes, and redesign my goal.
Really, I can make about anything happen.
And so can you.
3 – The Twits lacked mindfulness
Underestimating their monkeys, and despising each other lead the Twits to shrink. As self-centered, and unthoughtful individuals, they couldn’t think of any constructive or useful plan. Actually, they only thought in the short term, and only from their point of view: Mr Twits refused to add windows to the house, because he did not want people to see inside. He didn’t think about himself looking out though…
Time managing is the key to achieve success. Along with discipline, it is what you are seeking for in your business. When working on something, especially when you have to do it alone, you have to discipline yourself. To do so, you must know yourself. For instance: are you a morning or a night person? for how long can you focus? how do you keep your momentum going? etc.
I figured out that I was a night person, and that I would rather start late, and finish late, than the contrary. I also planned out each of my articles and goals. Thinking in the long-term helped me design plans, and let me know what I would be doing today in order to achieve tomorrow.
Only thinking about his Wednesday Bird Pie, made Mr Twit completely lost track of what was really important: his upside-down monkey circus project.
If you have a goal, work in order to achieve it. Regardless of what people think, give yourself the opportunities to create something big. Being mindful is not a big deal, after all.
What Roald Dahl managed to build in his whole life is really impressive. His books, and stories triggered many children’ imagination, and have taught them a lot of virtues, like kindness, and thoughtfulness. His creativity, perseverance, and organization were clearly outstanding, and can teach us a lot as content marketers, writers, and human beings.