This is my July post for Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers’ Support Group. For more entries, read here.
When the blank page becomes too much to look at, I start typing and see what comes. This is one insecurity with which I am “secure,” if that makes sense. Whether the outcome is good or bad, when I let them, words always surface.
Over the three years during which I have been writing regularly, I’ve situated myself in front of the computer many times with no hint of what to write about (this is one of them). When it happens, I perform a “brain dump,” placing my fingers on the keyboard and typing whatever is going on in my mind. It’s like lubricating the brain. The gears may stutter at first but then they click into place and the ride is long and smooth. The results aren’t always the most cohesive pieces, but nonetheless, writing occurs.
While we are editing/revising a particular project, it’s easy to get caught up in the “what if” of what we’ve written—to worry about developing more conflict, cutting and pasting to insure logic, and analyzing points of view. Is the story compelling enough, does it makes sense, is it realistic? Are there comments readers have suggested that need addressing? All of these things and so many more are critical to a well-crafted piece. But when we get bogged down in the technicalities, it is easy to forget the delight that’s produced by the pure writing—by the idea that blossoms in your brain and sloshes through your fingers like the refreshing torrent of a cool spring river. None of the “hard stuff” if you will, can happen UNTIL the ice melts and the waters flow.
I’m 4,000 words into a new project I have been struggling with since about page two. I don’t have a real idea of where the story is going and the topic is difficult. Each word feels like the drop of blood produced when they prick a finger and check for lead. When it’s time to work on it, I drag myself the computer saying, “Oh I don’t know. Am I really going to finish this one?”
On Saturday, I called my own bluff. “Just sit down, dummy. Start typing and see what comes.” And I did. There was no plan. Seven hundred words later, I "discovered" what had happened to my main character to put her in her current circumstances. I’m still not sure I’ll ever finish this thing, but it has new life. Better yet, during that sit down, the pure fun of writing enveloped me once again.
When you are stuck, or have lost your motivation, when you wonder if any of it will be worth it, just sit down and write—anything. Don’t edit. Let it flow, and the joy will touch you again.