I wrote 500 words tonight (before starting this post). I got thinking about an idea for a story early this morning. Before starting my day job, I wrote a half dozen bullet points about it. During my brainstorming session, I thought of a slightly different direction and that really seemed to click with me. Once the boys settled down for bed, I began writing. I hit 500 words and was happy with the tone I had established. For some odd reason, as I was writing, I heard the words as if narrated in a British voice. That seemed to click and captured the whimsy that I was going after. One full page was a good place to stop for the night.
I haven’t written since the post “Blog: Day Zero” three days ago. Interestingly, I also seemed a little irritable these last three days. It did remind me of a Heinlein quote, from The Cat Who Walks Through Walls. The protagonist, an iteration of Heinlein, says, “Writers go on writing long after it becomes financially unnecessary… because it hurts less to write than it does not to write.” My writing has no financial considerations at this point but that quote resonates with me. Writing makes me feel better. (I make no promises as to how reading it will make you feel. This is my process. Sorry.)
I had not written for three days because I was stuck. I wasn’t sure what to do next. I wrote my first story, “Sealing the Deal”, last week. That was a hastily constructed work- I had an idea in the morning and started writing after putting the boys to bed around 8:00 PM. I finished about 1 AM and posted it the following morning. Posting that piece of fiction was clearing a hurdle. But it wasn’t pretty.
Although I’m most interested in writing fiction, I was also the most afraid of that process. I was unsure if I could write dialogue that sounded real. I wondered if I could write a main character that was not a self-actualized version of myself- could I write a character that I didn’t like? And finally, could I tell a story- a beginning, middle, and end?
I definitely slapped the ending on that story. Although I like my set up and lead in, the ending feels forced. The main character (I don’t know if I can call him a protagonist) is not a likeable character (I accomplished that goal) but is rather two-dimensional. All nasty, nothing likeable or moderating. I was happy with the dialogue but, again, it feels rushed at the end. At 1700 words, it is a short short story. But- it had a beginning, a middle, and an end. And, more importantly, I finished it.
Finishing that story was important because I had never written a story before. (I am specifically not counting a terribly written piece of derived fiction I wrote in high school. It’s painful to even think about the writing. It stunk. I probably have it tucked away in a plastic tote somewhere. Maybe I’ll find it and post it as is.) Now that I’ve written my first story, everything else is just writing. I don’t have to worry about “my first one”. I wrote a beginning, a middle, and an end. I wrote dialogue. I wrote a character that I didn’t like.
The problem is that I don’t see myself dashing off a story every night in order to have something to post. It was important the night that I sat down to write “Sealing the Deal” that I finish the story. But I’d prefer to take more time writing my next story.
So that brings me to this post. I wrote 500 words of my next story. I’m not going to post it because there’s no rush on this one. I know that I can write a story- I did it the other day. So I’m reporting in to share I wrote 500 words. That is progress. Tomorrow I will write again. Maybe more, maybe less. Maybe I’ll continue this story or have an idea for something else that I want to get down on paper (Word document, but still).
If you’re working on freeing yourself from fear, set a small goal that you can accomplish and DO IT. Don’t worry about writing the Great American Novel. Write a story. Celebrate your success. Then keep going.
What do you want to accomplish?
How can you get started today?