Monday, February 21, 2011

How to begin: a guide in four tedious steps

Whenever I start a new writing project or return to one I've set aside, the process goes a little like this:
  1. I set a date on which to begin--usually the day after I've finished some other major task.
  2. That date arrives. I think about working, but decide that I'm really owed a day of downtime and relaxation after the rush to finish my previous project/submit grades/plow through mounds of research/whatever. But I'll totally start writing the next day.
  3. The second day, I intend to dive right in. But I don't know where to begin. I wander aimlessly around the house, eventually settling down with my folder of notes. I write out lists of ideas or things to incorporate, or maybe a rough outline.
  4. The third day, I start writing. Usually I manage about a paragraph. The rest of the time I spend re-reading shit I've already written, marveling that it actually got written, and that it sounds kinda good.
  5. The fourth day, I can usually manage a few pages.

From there on in, I'm generally able to work slowly but steadily. But getting started is agony, every time.

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