Start from where you are now is good advice for anything, really, but it is especially good for writing. You can’t really do anything else, yet we convince ourselves that we can, and that furthermore, we really can’t write anything until we do.
What do I mean by this?
Let me illustrate by talking about journaling. I’ve been thinking about journaling because I’ve actually been journaling lately, after a long break. I remember a friend of mine telling me that she got hung up when sitting down to journal because she felt she had to catch the journal up. So instead of just starting from where she currently sat, she felt she had to relay everything that had happened in the months since she previously wrote. And then that became such a big job that she never did it.
This morning when I was writing in my journal I realized I was writing about new people who had come into my life and referring to events that had happened in the interim since I last wrote. I gave myself permission to write a brief catch-up paragraph if I felt like it, but only if I felt like it.
And I love this whole discussion because of the implication that when we write in a journal someone is actually reading it, or else why would we feel we have to catch it up? If we say we love to write in a journal because nobody reads it, yet we worry about making sure everything is written down correctly, doesn’t that imply that someone will someday read it? If a tree falls in the forest…..
At any rate, when doing any kind of writing all you have to do is start from where you are. It is that simple and that complicated. So you want to write a short story but you feel you can’t because you don’t know how? Start from where you are now. Start with how much you do know–which is at the very least, how to write a sentence. Write one, and then another, and then another. So you want to write a novel but you don’t know how to plot? Well you probably wouldn’t want to write a novel if you didn’t have an idea for one, so start by writing that idea down. And then go from there. And the next time you sit down to write, start from where you are all over again, only this time you will have a little bit more to go from. And so it will go, as you continue to build your story or novel, one word, one sentence, one paragraph at a time, as you simply remember to start from where you are.