A couple of weeks ago, Jane wrote about how Revision is the “Heart of Writing.” And that is true, but to get to revision, you first have to begin.
Starting is the hardest part of writing…actually, it’s the hardest part of any project. I am supposed to have a draft of a 250-page book completed by the end of the year. When I proposed this project, I anticipated having 42 pages of polished writing completed each month starting June 1st. That’s 10,500 words. Assuming I need to at least double that to have 42 pages of polished writing completed, that’s 21,000 words a month, equal to 700 words a day. However, if I don’t write every day, that’s 1050 words a day, M-F. I can usually write that in a few hours, so 1050 words a day is doable…mathematically, anyway.
The problem comes when I actually sit down to write.
I check email.
I check Facebook.
I check Twitter.
I watch the birds outside.
Three hours later, I still have a blank screen or a few bad sentences.
I know what I want to write about. I have some writing completed in the forms of journals and short articles. And I could start there, but as I read them and consider using them, the writing seems flat and uninspired.
I tell my students all the time that starting is the most difficult part. I tell them to just sit and write: “Put it on the page. Even if you’re writing “I don’t know what to write” until finally some thoughts come to mind and you write them down.” Once those ideas are out, they can be organized and manipulated into art…or at least communication to the public.
So, I’ve tried that.
But then the river beckons me.
My dogs want to go for a hike.
My viola needs to be practiced.
Perhaps procrastination is the human condition even if it isn’t good for us. I wonder what the biological reason is for it…is it coded in our DNA? Or perhaps it is learned.
Perhaps it is simply summer and I’m having too much fun kayaking, biking, hiking, and camping.
I want to write, but the subject of surviving cancer is hard to write about. It’s hard to think about. I don’t want to remember sitting for hours at The Welch Cancer Center while poison dripped into my veins. I don’t want to remember the tingling throughout my body as the “red devil” took residence into my cells and tissue. I don’t want to remember the days I cried at my desk wondering how I was ever going to survive.
But I have to remember. I have to make sense of it all. I need to pause and consider the lessons I’ve learned and consider how my story can hep others.
And I’ll get there.
But right now, it’s the start of the July 4th weekend, and I have to go camping.