3 Steps to Creating With a Broken Brain

I can’t see the word “oxygen.”

Let me be more precise: while I have memorized how to spell it, my dyslexia makes the “y” and “g” trade places like drunk guys in a square-dance.

Sound weird? Welcome to my world.

Keeping It Straight

Creating an entire universe with a handicap like this is something of a challenge (obviously, inventing languages a la Tolkien is right out). So how do I do it?

Here’s how. And if these steps help you, then you’re welcome to them.

1. Lists, Lists, Lists

I cannot emphasize this enough. While you don’t have to create a full-blown wiki like I have, if you assume you can keep names/dates/locations/events straight just by remembering them, you are wrong. I suggest OneNote, Evernote, and Google Keep as three solid ways to keep those lists handy on phone, tablet, and computer. If you need something more structured, I suggest mindmapping (this video shows you how) via tools like MindMeister (free for up to three mindmaps, at the time of this article) or Mindomo (also free for up to three).

2. Can the Pride

It’s not an easy thing to listen to a laundry-list of failings, and yet that’s part of the job description as a creative artist. You make something and put it out there, and that means everybody gets to see and comment on it.

Pro-tip: don’t defend yourself. Listen to the folks who say “there’s a typo,” and freaking THANK them. They’ve done the work of an editor for you, and by telling you where it is, saved you hours of work.

This means being willing to say you blew it, even in tiny things. Trust me when I say this: it’s worth it. Having readers you can trust to help you clean up your manuscript is an absolutely invaluable treasure.

3. “Finished” Is a Metaphor

The Sundered has been out since 2012. Know what I’m still hearing about? Errors. Know what I get to correct, then? Errors.

The beauty of being self-published (which I will go into at a later date) is that I have that freedom: I can go into CreateSpace or KDP and fix the errors, hit save, and walk away. There is no error that has to be permanent for me, and that brings an amazing sense of freedom.

And that’s really it.

I know it doesn’t seem like much. I know. Trust me: it is. Pushing aside pride and being willing to see where things can improve is an amazing adventure, and I guarantee you’ll create better if you do.

Now get out there and make good art.


A three-times bestselling author, Ruthanne Reid has led a convention panel on world-building, taught courses on plot and character development, and been the keynote speaker for the Write Practice Retreat. Author of two series with five books and fifty-plus short stories, Ruthanne has lived in her head since childhood, when she wrote her first story about a pony princess and a genocidal snake-kingdom and used up her mom’s red typewriter ribbon in the process. When she isn’t reading, writing, or reading about writing, Ruthanne enjoys old cartoons with her husband and two cats, and dreams of living on an island beach far, far away. P.S. Red is still her favorite color.