In their wise book about the nature of making art, Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking, David Bayles and Ted Orland say that people don’t STOP writing. Instead, they fail to begin again.
Beating the Holiday Stops by Starting Again
Today, I’m trying to beat the holiday STOPS by starting again. And I feel the resistance. I love my current WIP. I’m excited by the possibilities. I see the problems and have possible solutions to try. And yet —
Putting words on the page/screen is hard. I don’t know where to start. The story is a bit convoluted right now and I’m not sure I can solve the problems, even though I have strategies to try. I’m unsettled, unfocused, uncommitted. Pulled in too many directions.
And yet, a writer is a person who writes.
It’s comforting to go back to ART AND FEAR and reread that the core problem is to begin again. I must start. And it almost doesn’t matter where.
When I taught Freshman Composition, I often had students who balked at writing. After all, I had only the average students. The A/B students tested out of taking Freshman Comp. The D/F students didn’t come to college. That meant I had a class full of B/C/D average students. Often, they planned their entire schedule around my class. They had nothing before my class so they could write something at the last minute. They had nothing after my class, so they could hide in their room and weep. They did not WANT to write.
My advice was to write. Move the pen across the page. Do not stop moving the pen across the page until I tell you to stop. If you don’t know WHAT to write, copy this sentence over and over until you want to write something else: “I don’t know what to write, but I have to write something, so I’m writing this.”
Never did a student write that more than twice, because it’s so boring, so obvious. Instead, they’d launch into a tirade about how they really, honestly, completely didn’t want to write. But guess what? They were writing. And soon, they realized griping about writing was boring and started to let their more intelligent thoughts find their way to the page.
It’s the same advice I give myself. Write.
It doesn’t matter.
Write a blog post.
Write a description.
Write a scrap of dialogue.
Write. Let the first word lead to a second word, and that leads to a third and fourth. And so on.
I’m going to write now. I hope you Start Again, too.
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