It’s a well-known gag: a writer will clean their whole house to put off writing. And like any good joke, there’s a nugget of truth in there. It’s the getting started that can be the hardest part.
Some writers say it’s the intimidation of staring at the blank screen. That blinking cursor taunting them, daring them to type the first word.
For me, I think it’s my fear of commitment.
Once I start writing something, I can’t stop. I can’t quit until I’m finished. And I don’t mean that I have to write the whole thing in one go. I mean that I don’t quit on a piece until I get to the end, no matter how much I don’t like it or don’t want to write it. Even if I know that I’m not going to do anything with it. I have to finish it.
This has a tendency to make me hesitant to start. Do I want to commit to this idea? Is it good enough to carry me all the way? Or is this thing going to die halfway through and I’m going to have drag its corpse across the finish line? All valid questions, sure, but they make me put off starting, sometimes until it’s too late. The idea goes stale or the deadline passes and I never get a word down.
This fear of commitment has been complicated by my recent struggles with my writing. I already flail when it comes to starting a piece; the lack of productivity is just kissing a papercut with salt chapstick.
I’ve even been having trouble with my blog posts. Getting started or in some cases, finishing them. I’ll get off to a strong start and for whatever reason I have to finish it later, which will be my undoing. Starting where I left off should be easy, but instead I find myself procrastinating. I can’t bring myself to start writing even though I technically already started.
It’s a strange, frustrating thing.
Especially when I know that all I have to do is start. If I just get that first sentence out, the magic will happen. I know that. But the harder I try, the more I resist. It’s almost like a panic response. I sit down to get started on a piece and I turn into a Muppet flailing in the forest. Or a middle age woman playing endless games of solitaire and constantly checking Twitter until I give up.
I’ve only been revising things lately, which has helped with my productivity, but that reprieve won’t last. And as much as I like doing NaNo, I’d like to be able to write productively outside of the month of November.
There are several ideas that I’d like to be working on right now. Ideas that have been sitting in the fore of my brain for a couple of months. They are right there, ready to go.
I just have to get started.