Wednesday, January 16, 2013

'Only the Spoons'

Fortunately, writers -- and all other humans -- can be "tricked" into doing something they don't want to do. Often, writers don't want to write.

Oh, yes, you want to be a writer and you want to have written today's word count and you want to be a novelist but . . . write right now?

Oh, man . . .

If it's any consolation, the same is true with other kinds of writing. I like being a columnist but there are times when, right now, I don't want to write a column. And, at that moment, I have to write a column. (Yes, one gets paid for writing newspaper and magazine columns but they come with deadlines. Start missing those and, very soon, one is no longer a newspaper or magazine columnist.)

The trick? I suppose I could call this"Only the Spoons." When our kids were little and one of them had to wash the dishes (no automatic dishwasher here) there was the usual amount of whining and moaning ("whoaning"?) and pointing out that life wasn't fair and whoever was the last one to wash dishes didn't have as many dishes to wash and why did . . . ?

And so on.

I would tell that child to wash only the spoons. Oh. That was doable. Then only the glasses. Just the glasses. You get the idea. Soon more was washed than unwashed. And then there was a race to the finish.

It's the starting that's hard. (I'm reminded of a how-to writing book by Anne Lamott titled Bird by Bird.)

If 500 words seems overwhelming, sit down and write only 50. That isn't so bad. Doesn't take long. Then, most likely, you'll just keep going and complete the day's count. Or . . .

Sometimes, with a 600-word column, I'll tell myself I'll write only 300. And then I take a little break, realize I'm halfway there and know I'll feel better getting the whole thing done. So I go back and finish it.


Finish it.

Your daily word count. Your novel.

Your novel.

Just keep writing.

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