When it comes to the commitments we make to ourselves– things like I will write for three hours a day on my novel, play, screen play, short-story—-some of us inevitably break the promise as soon as possible because some part of us is trembling with fear and doing it’s best to protect us from the cruel possibility that maybe we can’t write.  Some of us prepare to write, by researching ourselves to utter exhaustion and end up with more information than we could ever need,  and others simply decide cleaning a closet and having lunch with a friend is more important. The secret to all this is to start with what you know and get it down on the page even if it is rough and weak and scant and inconsequential.  Abstract Painters know that they have to splash some paint on the canvas or make some marks or shapes or lines that may actually never be part of the painting but that lead to the painting.  I sometimes begin with writing words in a water colour crayon randomly or pick a colour and a brush and apply some painterly scribbles and doodles that lead me to whatever is next in the painting. My mind will respond to the marks and a conversation with colour and line and shape and texture begins. Sometimes an argument occurs and a choice is made and it’s the wrong choice– but it can be scraped off and painted over. Same with writing. Get thee to your computer is my advice– and start writing a few things you know about the character, the setting, the plot. Start.  Be random. Be a beginner. Be awkward. Write badly. You just have to start. And be willing to make a mess–that’s all. Because the part of you that wants to write will rise up and figure it out. Maybe not immediately but it will. So start with what you know and then you will have kept your promise for another day and pretty soon something in your brain will shift and a door will open. Just start and don’t quit.

 

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