Monday, October 20, 2014

Writing: The First Mile

Yeah, I've got no end to the writing/jogging comparison, lately. So sue me.

I mean, writing really is like running a marathon. Or just running. Or jogging/walking/biking/crawling and every combination thereof. It's grueling, it costs you sweat and the occasional tears, uses up your energy like you're going to die tomorrow, anyway, so why bother saving it? You ache, cramp up, and need that much-welcomed chocolate break later, am I right?

Therefore, writing really is like working out. And just like working out, starting is the hardest part.

I've finally started some edits on my WIP; just some small things to start out, since I'm waiting to see what a few people think so I can work their feedback into this next draft, as well. All I know, is that for the last two weeks I've been totally ready to begin again. Two weeks ago, I actually pulled up two word documents: my most recent draft, and a blank document for the new draft.

Then I stared at both of them for ten minutes, blankly wondering what the hell I was doing with my life and maybe I should take up zoo-keeping, instead.

I did the same thing two days later, and then again over the weekend, and, guys, this is like a never-ending vicious cycle.

Can you relate? Maybe not even to that, exactly, but something similar? Because it doesn't matter if you're writing the first word of a manuscript ever, or if you're on draft ten. Starting is really hard.

How do you fix the problem? Suck in your breath and hold it until you turn blue, down some coffee (or the beverage of your choice), and just start slamming your fingers on the keyboard while hoping that readable words are coming out. Start with a word, then a sentence. A sentence turns into a paragraph, a paragraph to a page...see the pattern?

Once you start, it's easy. Personally, every time I sit down to start something knew or begin a new draft of an old work, I feel like I've forgotten how to write. But once I saw, "Screw it," and just start, it all comes back to me. The further I get, the easier it becomes, which folds over to when I take a break in the middle of a chapter and start again the next day. When there's something looking back at you, it's a lot easier to just follow the road map and drive.

Just like working out: the first half a mile, sometimes mile, is torture. I feel my muscles working, feel my shortness of breath. I notice everything that my body is doing to get me to stop. Then I get into a rhythm and eventually I forget about it: I warm up, I find a pattern and a pace. My body realizes, "Holy shit, I guess I can do this," and it takes over. Before I know it I've been on the treadmill for thirty minutes and almost have three miles under my belt.

And you've almost got a thousand words; maybe even two thousand.

So sit your butt in that chair and just write. Really, there are no excuses. If you've got the time and the atmosphere, just start and see where it takes you, and trust that you actually do know what you're doing. Try just ten minutes, even; set a timer, write, and by the time that ten minutes is up you'll have at least gotten a sentence or two, heck maybe even an entire paragraph.

Trust me, guys: starting really is the hardest part. If you can get past that, then finishing the novel's the easiest thing in the world.

Tweet It:

Writing those first words is a lot easier than you might think. @Rae_Slater talks starting at the beginning (Click to Tweet)

Start with a word, then a sentence. Then you've run a mile. Why writing is like a good workout (Click to Tweet)

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