Lucy Van Pelt’s Cutting-Edge Advice to Writers

By guest blogger Caroline Lilyard

Please help me welcome one of my students from the Fear of Writing online courses, Caroline, with her humorous take on life after graduation. ~ Milli

Lucy Van Pelt - The Doctor Is In bookmark

The Doctor Is In

“I can spot these writing types a mile away,” thought Lucy Van Pelt, as she watched the woman walk toward her booth. “Think they know everything; think they’re special because they have fear. Oh, I’m so sensitive, so artistic,” she said mockingly. “Well, whoopdee-frickin’-do, like nobody else but creative types are scared to do new things. Puhleeze. Get a grip.”

Lucy checked her facial expression and sat up straighter. In truth, she only charged five cents for her psychiatric help so there was an exchange. It’s not like she could buy much with that. She was providing a public service. There was no problem she couldn’t advise upon. “Just a naturally talented and wise person, I guess,” she thought, as the creative came closer. “I know what she’s gonna say, but let’s do this anyway. . . .”

It wasn’t the first time she’d dealt with a Fear of Writing grad student. Bring it on.

Caroline, the student, surprised Dr. Lucy “Genius” Van Pelt.

“Look, I’ve dealt with the fear issue in my courses with Milli,” she said. “I don’t need to talk about that, but thanks anyway. What I need is to figure out my motivation to continue now that the class is over. Can you help me with that?”

Lucy looked a bit miffed. She didn’t believe for a second that a Fear of Writing grad had conquered her fear, but she let it go. “We’ll get back around to that eventually. It always happens,” she thought, as she sized up this student.

In truth, Caroline hadn’t wanted to talk with Lucy. She considered her a know-it-all blowhard, but she’d promised to divert her so Schroeder could sneak by. Lucy was in love with the piano-playing Schroeder, but he couldn’t stand her.

“If she’s so smart about creative people, why can’t she get this guy to deal with her?” Caroline thought.

After some preliminary scouting and chit-chat, they got down to business. “Well, what is it you’re hoping to write after the course? Have you gotten that far?” Lucy asked.

“I want to try a novel, short stories, and a screenplay. It depends on the story.”

“So do it. What’s stopping you?” Lucy said without blinking. “You took not one but two classes to deal with your fear; you say you’re over it and ready to move on. Just do it! You know what to do: write regularly, keep going, seek support, get feedback, and do it over and over and over until you improve.”

“Yeah but . . .” Caroline said, working herself up to a lengthy explanation of the nuances of her being, and how it wasn’t quite that simple, even after the Fear of Writing courses. “There’s more to it than . . .”

“Bullshit! You think swimmers, painters, gardeners, gymnasts, musicians, etcetera, etcetera, can get all precious and not just PRACTICE?!” Her voice rose despite herself. “You writers drive me nuts with your words and your delicacies and your excuses.” She knew she was getting too personal but she couldn’t stop herself.

“That’s not fair,” Caroline said, with a pout forming. “It’s different for us.”

“Oh, please, Lady, give me a break. You’re not different, not special, at least no more so than anyone else learning and perfecting a craft. You have to do the time. Practice. Learn. Practice some more.”

Lucy tapped her fingers on the counter, then pointed. “You want your motivation? I’ll tell you what your motivation is right now. You’re a writer. If you weren’t you wouldn’t have taken the classes. Get it?”

It irritated Lucy that writers had such a hard time seeing and believing in that fact. Was it because everybody did some writing in everyday life and thought they could write a book “if they just had the time”? Who knew. The fact remained that it took a knock on the head to get them to see that their motivation was right in front of their noses. She was just the one to do it, too!

“Look. Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, and writers gotta write. Get it? It’s your nature. Just do it.”

“You may be right,” Caroline said, as she gathered her things and stood up. “Okay.”

Sometimes the people with the least patience cut to the heart of the matter, she thought, as she mentally prepared for the days of writing ahead. She couldn’t wait.

Caroline Lilyard, writer

Caroline Lilyard


CAROLINE LILYARD is a recent graduate of both the Fear of Writing Online Course and the FoW Graduate Course. She now considers herself an official Writing Trainee and has been issued the badge, jumbo-size eraser, and hairnet.

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