|The author, Dane F. Baylis|
CONQUERING THE GREAT WHITE ABYSS
FACE IT, EVERY STORY BEGINS WITH A BLANK SHEET OF PAPER.
Everyone of us has that moment. You sit down to start writing and, ugh, where are the words? It's the Sargasso Sea of stalled, the Bermuda Triangle of terror. You want to be a writer and you can't seem to do the one thing it takes to make that happen. Write! You need a plot, a theme, HELL, even a character will do. But there's nothing there. What's with that?
It's stage fright my child, pure and simple. You're center stage in your new role as author and the moment has overwhelmed you. Maybe you've been at it a while and gone stale? Or you're coming off a triumph (No, not the motorcycle! Sheesh!) and can't see how you might top it. Do not get out of that chair! Take deep breaths, then put your fingers on the keys and type, "I am sitting here in front of this screen because..." and run with that thought. Write something about the writing you want to do. Write something that examines why you're not writing what you think you should. Write about that time you had to read that paper you wrote in front of the class. Talk about terror.
Well, what do you know, you are a writer. Nope, it's probably not that "Great (you supply the nationality) Novel" you feel you should be writing, but at least your brain's engaged and your fingers are moving. That epic treatise on the entire four and a half billion years of planetary history can wait a bit.
The greatest cause of literary constipation is pressure. Most likely you can handle the external variety, (Come on, you know you procrastinate right up to a deadline with the rest of us), but the self-imposed stress is what will ice up your imaginative wings and send you spinning into the dirt fastest. It tends to go like this, "I have to get out ten pages a day." or "My quota is twenty five hundred words daily. MINIMUM!" or "For my first project, I'll write a novel." Later, it tends to go like this, "Why did I ever set a stupid goal?"
So how do you get to this state of constantly hammering keys? By sitting down and writing something every chance you get. One word at a time. Some of it can be in blog. Some of it can be in a variety of notebooks and yellow pads. I carry a thumb drive everywhere and take a laptop on the road. (Outside of writing I have very little life, but my writing life is my passion.)
Occasionally you'll get stuck. So drag out a notebook or a how-to on writing, or the newspaper, and flip through until something lights the bulb. The vast majority of this is crap, but that's what first drafts are for. In there, you'll find the ideas and inspiration you're looking for. Oh, if you're waiting for the muse? Good luck, she's a fickle bitch. She might be off blowing into your competitors ear right now.
That's the other truth. We are all competing. With whom? Look at every face you pass on the street tomorrow. That's them. Everyone of them will tell you that they could have written it better than you did. The difference? You're sitting in front of a keyboard right now, writing about why you can't write. They're still walking down the sidewalk.
Over the next week or so I'll be looking at some of the mechanics of short fiction. These are things that can be applied pretty much to any length and I'll address that along the way. I hope some of it will be useful for you.
Meanwhile...live, love, write.
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Dane F. Baylis