Friday, May 15, 2009
The Hardest Part of Writing
I can tell you the hardest part of writing in two words: getting started. Whether it's an initial getting started as in the beginning of a novel or story, or the daily getting started of beginning to toil on a current work in progress, this is the hardest part. Actually getting started on a new project is actually easier for me, and less daunting, than starting work on something that I've been writing for a while.
Take this morning, for example. I am more than 80,000 words into my latest book. Yesterday, I wrote four pages of notes about the remainder of the novel, mapping out details of what will happen and how we will arrive at the ending and, I hope, closure. I am all set to go. And I do not have the bar set high: 1,000 words is all I ask of myself.
Yet here I sit, writing a blog. Did you notice I am NOT writing a novel? Yet here I sit, updating Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, answering e-mails, playing solitaire (just ONE game!), taking care of loading the dishwasher, throwing recyclables into the bin outside, walking the Boston Terrier, marinating chicken for tonight's dinner, taking a picture of myself to accompany this blog (see above). Should I wash my hair? Blow my nose? Sometimes, I think I'd do just about anything to avoid the kind of writing I profess to love the most.
Why is that? I wonder. Is it performance anxiety? Good Lord, I think I wrote my first story when I was all of six years old. I have written innumerable short stories, poems, essays, plays, novels...some published, some not, some good, some "what was I thinking?" bad. The point is: could performance anxiety be what's causing me to drag my heels? It shouldn't be, but there it is. One never knows the precise time or date when the magic well will run dry.
Or is it because I fear the slipping under that accompanies writing fiction? See, I do go into a kind of "state" when I write (I met a professional hypnotist once who told me that creative people actually may self-hypnotize when they're working, and this made a lot of sense to me). And maybe I'm afraid that slipping under will further reduce my already tenuous hold on reality. Perhaps one day I will disappear into my imaginary world, never to return. And if you know some of the things I write, that prospect is downright terrifying.
Or is it just because I am lazy? Maybe avoiding work, rather than working, is what I do best?
Who knows? I only wrote this to avoid working on my current novel a few minutes more and now I am really out of things to say on the topic. So, now the manuscript looms before me and I am about to plunge in.
Oh, wait, I see by the tab above I have seven new e-mails in my Gmail. I better check those first. Then I'll get started. I promise.