Yesterday, I had my first decent writing session in weeks. And another one today. Success! Wanna know why? Because I finally shut out the world to finish my new new new rough draft (actually named newdraft.12.5.22.newerversion.docx).
Opening yourself up to the chaos of public opinion will completely debilitate you before you have a chance to grapple with the problem waiting at your word processor. I know it’s typical to see writers reach out to their online writing community for feedback or to banter on the woes of getting started, and that’s totally cool. It makes one feel less alone in the ordeal, but when it comes down to it, there’s only room for one in the writer’s chair. Unless of course, you’re doing collaborative work and originating stuff together from square one. When writing alone, however, it is clear to me the deepest joys come from allowing myself to sit and stew on my story burdens. I forgot all about that.
My son works on Legos a lot, or lego technics, which tend to require just a bit more attention to detail. When he hits a roadblock, his immediate response is to ask for Mom or Dad:
I can’t find this piece.
I don’t know where this one goes.
Is it okay if I do it this way?
I can’t do this.
I’ve said these words to myself on late night writing sessions and I’ve heard them uttered on countless reddit threads where I also find myself seeking an answer to many a story problem. Sometimes, I’m afraid of the page too, and it’s easier to step away than to confront it.
We can’t give up before we begin. If you’re a writer facing a blank page, everyone’s opinion should cease to exist for you. There’s only room on that page for what you have to say. You’ve already done the hard work of reading what you love, learning about cool shit in the world, experiencing life. In that moment of creative action, all you need is your worldview.
When my son asks for help, I often ask him to take a deep breath, and pick up where he left off.
Obviously, creative collaboration is its own beast, but when it comes to the first draft duel between you and your word processor: Solving a creative problem out in the open robs you of the pleasure found in discovering throughlines and connections that no one else can dream up but you.
When my son gives himself time to move forward, he finds his path and shines. Give yourself time, and you will too.