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Monday, July 10, 2006

Write through the Fear

Getting the idea onto the page isn't hard. Getting the story down in the fabulous, stellar, outstanding, Pulitzer-Prize-winning way you pictured in your brain is a whole 'nother ballgame.

I don't believe in writer's block. I think it's my background as a newspaper writer: I write whether I feel like it or not. But I'll admit there can be a . . . um . . . pause when tackling a narrative. It's like staring up from the pier at an aircraft carrier knowing you're expected to drive that thing. You're responsible for taking people on a journey; you know the kind of ship (story) it is; but the thing feels so bloody big.

A story can be scary to write because 1) it's capital-eye-Important in a policy kind of way (e.g., turning the spotlight on the county's ineptitude in running group homes); 2) it's full of people you have to work in and keep track of for the reader somehow; 3) it's tragic; 4) the protagonist is interesting but not likeable; 5) you don't have an ending yet; 6) you're drowning in research; 7) it's so long! 8) it's so short! 9) you don't have an editor to help you structure and streamline; 10) it has to hook people and draw them through the story and that requires beginnings and middles and ends and tension and who the heck knows how to do that? 11) your dad/mom/guidance counselor never thought writing was a real job anyway.

These concerns are valid, and I'll talk about them in future posts. It's OK to worry, but ya gotta get started anyway.

So. Calm down. Go get a drink of water. Take some deep breaths. Then write down on a piece of paper why you want to write this story and one or two words that say what this story is really about(e.g., "disillusionment," "rebirth," "betrayal," "motherhood"). Tape the paper to the corner of your computer and get started.

Start anywhere. A scene, the lead, an outline, a list of people who are the characters in your story. Anything. No one will make you use it, but you have to get something down on paper to be able to fix it. I haven't come across anyone yet who can write and edit an entire story in his or her head.


Blogger Kristen King said...

There are people who talk about writing and there are people who are really writers. Getting started makes you a writer, not a wannabe. Nice observations!


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