Just for you, because I love ya, I've invented a new writing machine. Here's what it does: with a long metal robotic arm, it reaches out, grabs paper and pen, and plops it down in front of you. You can also program it to grab your laptop, tablet, or computer keyboard. There's an optional feature that will, if you so choose, chain you to your chair for a set period of time.
Here's the rub: that's as much as the machine does. After that it is up to you to start writing. This may be a bit of a news flash to you, but in order to write something like a novel, a short story, or a memoir, you have to … write.
Dude. Imagine that.
But, you know what? We forget that. Even I, who have been making my living doing this for years, forget that. Lately, I've been very stern with myself. I've had so very many important things to get done. Manuscripts to read, a rewrite to finish, workshops to plan. And so I laid down the law. There is no time for writing. We must work. And work hard. Nose to the grindstone and all that.
Yesterday I awoke in a brain fog, staring off into space, overwhelmed by the week ahead. Out of the corner of my eye, I spied my pink journal which had been unopened for a couple of weeks. I stared at it, with one eye squinting until it occurred to me….perhaps I should write.
And so I did.
And it was exactly what I needed to do.
But my journal practically had to jump up and down in front of me to get me to open it and start writing, which is why I'm inventing the writing machine for all of us. Because it's one of those crazy paradoxes: when you're blocked in your writing, the solution is to write.
I think what happens is that we crank ourselves into perfectionist mode. When I'm not writing, it starts to seem like this big impossible thing that I can't do because I start imagining that every word I write has to be stellar. But if I can just get myself to write one word…and then a sentence..and then a paragraph, I remember:
- All I have to is put words on the page.
- I don't have to write well.
- I can write crappy sentences
- Nothing has to make sense.
Because once I do put words on the page, things start to flow. Ideas form and spill off my fingers. Crappy sentences straighten themselves out. Scenes begin to write themselves. And I am writing.
So, yeah, that writing machine should be going into production soon. In the meantime, I've got the next best thing here.
What do you do to get yourself to write?