Rule #1 on writing — do it

So far I’m doing a better job of creating categories than writing posts. But today’s post makes five for five on this post-a-day 2011 challenge I signed up for when I started my blog.  No, I couldn’t just sign up for the blog; dabble around for a few days; put up a post; wait about a week; try again.

When you go swimming do you like to gradually get used to the water? First you feel the temperature with your toe. Then you descend the first step, then another until you slowly make it to the bottom where you stand a while shivering and using your hands to splash water over your arms. Then  finally, you either decide to go all the way under, or you turn and retreat.

Or do you like to jump right in?

I’m jumping in.

It’s interesting to note, although somewhat redundant and therefore boring to read, that many if not most or even all writers struggle with the sitting-down-to-put-words-on-the-page part of writing. The single most often repeated advice on writing that I’ve read is, “Sit your butt down in front of your typewriter and stay there. Every day.” (I know typewriters are a thing of the past, but don’t you agree that the idea of one adds a bit of nostalgia and romance to the vision. I mean, let’s face it, I could sit in front of my computer and do any number of things including play Bejeweled or Spider Solitaire and it wouldn’t do a thing to advance my writing ability or projects.)

The other piece of advice that I find somewhat mystical and therefore compelling is “Just show up at the keyboard and then get out of the way.” I mean, really? How can I write without thinking about what I am going to write?

But here’s the thing that convinces me the most about the credibility of this advice: some of the best sentences, paragraphs, stories I’ve written have shown up in my head when I wake up in the morning, or occasionally in the middle of the night. They aren’t anything I’ve necessarily intended to write, or contemplated how to word. Just bam. There they are in my head in the morning. I’m always amazed when this happens. It’s like when I’m sleeping my brain says, “Finally, she’s out of the way and I can get to work here.”

That’s it. Surely you can’t expect brilliance everyday. Think of it as gold mining. You have to throw away an awful lot of gravel.


3 thoughts on “Rule #1 on writing — do it”

  1. There is gravel in abundance, yes, at least for me. I’ve been finding it more and more difficult to post daily–I have this empty well of creativity right now. But I’ve been forcing myself to sit down and do *something* and post it whether or not I like it–and that’s been less painful than it might have been. I think a lot of creating drafts of material is embracing imperfectionism and then allowing yourself to love the weirdnesses that come off of the page.

  2. Well, I’m not sitting in front of a typewriter, but I am hopefully going to be standing in front of an easle more of the time soon. Same challenges ~ loved the post.


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