Has writing gotten harder?
In those halcyon days when you were younger (last month, maybe?), it all seemed so easy. You sat down with your computer or your notebook, positioned the cursor or the pen at the ready and … words flowed. You didn’t have to work at them, you didn’t have to struggle to get them out, they just ran out of your fingers and onto the page in a steady stream. If anything, it was hard to keep up!
So, what happened?
Have you been reading too many “This is How You Write” blogs? Maybe you’ve been so diligent at reminding yourself of the rules, the dos and don’ts that you’re afraid to commit anything to paper because it might not be good enough.
But, “good enough” for who?
Don’t ever forget that first drafts are supposed to be crappy. It’s getting the words out of your head that’s important. The minute you clench up and worry about whether you need a comma before the ‘and,’ you’re just asking for trouble.
Maybe you’re afraid of what will happen AFTER you’ve written. The minute you finish your novel, you’re going to need to send it out, right? Who wants to deal with all that rejection? Whereas, if the writing’s not done, you’re under no obligation to do anything with it at all. You wouldn’t send a child out on its own, would you? No, so you can’t send out writing that’s not ready … it wouldn’t be right!
Perhaps you’ve got too many ideas in your head. You can’t decide which to work on, and so the words all bottleneck in your head and can’t make it down your arm to your fingers. In which case, pick one–whichever idea is jumping up and down and wavings its hand like Horschack used to on Welcome Back, Kotter. THAT’s the idea you want to work on. Any idea with that much energy deserves some attention.
Or maybe you’ve got the opposite problem–no ideas at all. Your brain is an empty wilderness, like one of those 1960s performance art exhibits of a completely white room with a battered shoe in the center of the floor. So, you know what you do? You write about the shoe. Describe its scratched and cracking leather, the limpness of its laces as they dangle on the floor. The way the tongue is lolling to the side, like a dog’s on a hot day. Imagine what kind of life that shoe has led to be in such a state.
And that pesky, tempting internet with its social networking sites, multitude of blogs, and websites galore tempting you and leading you astray?
…Um, I’m still looking for the answer to that one!
The point is to WRITE.