Monday, February 18, 2013

Put Down the Duckie!

Put Down the Duckie!

In 1986, Sesame Street first aired its jazzy number, "Put Down the Duckie," music by Christopher Cerf and lyrics by Norman Stiles. Ernie goes to Hoots the Owl for advice: every time he tries to play the saxophone, he tells Hoots, the instrument makes a funny squeaking noise. Hoots tells him that it's because he's holding his Rubber Duckie as he tries to play. If Ernie wants to play the sax, he'll have to put down the duckie. And the song takes off as the entire band and an eclectic array of celebrities join Hoots in exhorting Ernie to put down the duckie. Ernie pays them all no heed, until Hoots says the magic words: Ernie can pick the duckie back up again when he's done playing. Once Ernie realizes this, he tosses Rubber Duckie aside with abandon and  grooves with the band. 

This song jives to the beat of the incandescent writer: you do not have to give up who you are and the things most dear to your life in order to dedicate yourself to writing. But you do have to set aside other passions temporarily in order to make time to write, passions that are not forgotten, but that are categorized and scheduled. 

I know it seems impossible to fit another full time job into your life when you may already essentially have two other full time jobs. But it can happen - it can work. It is phenomenal how much you can get done when you are crazy busy doing the things that really get your motor runnin'. If you just cannot feel the spark you need to energize your life and your writing, publish a book to give yourself a tangible product to work for. Or enter a contest in order to give yourself deadlines. Start a blog, and make yourself responsible for it and to your readers. Commission the cover of your book in progress, so you have a very real piece of the book to  to fill. Literally.

Once you decide, I am a writer, suddenly, focus shifts, time warps, and priorities change. I have six unread books on my phone and two in my car. I forget to eat. I work out with alacrity because I am so pumped to get to the next thing to do in my day. I am infatuated with British television, but I haven't even finished the Father Brown (A British mystery series from 1974 based on the stories of G.K. Chesterton)  episode yet that I started two weeks ago before I published my book. No episodes of Zen, Doc Martin, or Upstairs, Downstairs for over a week. And I do not even miss them! Have I abandoned BBC TV forever? Of course not - Inspector Lewis supposedly has at least one more season to go, for Pete's sake. 

But for now, I have put down the duckie, thus freeing myself to write on and on.


GVR Corcillo

author of

Queen of the Universe coming this Fall


  1. Great post, Geralyn. I'd never heard of the Put Down the Duckie song, but I'm going to remember it. It's great advice for a writer!

  2. I recently discovered the duckie song myself. Then, when I looked it up on the web, there was so much duckie info, I felt like the only one who didn't know about the duckie :)