Getting Started

It's been a while since I've done a post on writing.  I haven't stopped writing, in fact, I've been writing more regularly this past year than any year before in my life.  But writing doesn't yield an image to post on the blog, or anything that I can share at the moment. prettyrose_small

(Meanwhile, the roses in the backyard are blooming.)

The most difficult part about writing is actually sitting down and writing-- at least it is for me.  Once I've gotten past the hump of starting, writing is usually easy.  The words tumble out, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.

I've found a few ways over the hump.  I do yoga or some sort of exercise beforehand.   (Working out the stiffness in my muscles seems to help me work out any stiffness in my brain as well.)  I write in the morning, when my mind is fresh.   I pull up the playlist for whatever chapter I'm working on, and listen to music.   My imagination wakes up,  boosts me over the hump, and I can write.

The playlist for the chapter-in-progress:

Sansa's Hymn - Karliene ReynoldsDevil's Backbone - The Civil WarsMy Featherbed - Karliene ReynoldsYoung and Beautiful - Lana del Ray

Here's an excerpt from a wonderful essay by Susan Cooper (author of The Dark is Rising series), about how she gets in the mood to write:

Writing is one of the loneliest professions in the world because it has to be practiced in this very separate private world, in here.  Not in the mind; in the imagination.  And I think it is possible that the writing of fantasy is the loneliest job of the lot, since you have to go further inside.  You have to make so close a connection with the unconscious that the unbiddable door will open and let the images fly out, like birds...

It makes you superstitions.  Most writers indulge in small private rituals to start themselves writing each day... The very first half hour at the desk has nothing much to do with fantasy or even ritual: It's what J.B. Priestley used to call "sharpening pencils" -- the business of doing absolutely everything you can think of to put off the moment of starting work.  You make another cup of coffee.  You find a telephone call that must be made, a letter that must be answered.  You do sharpen pencils...

Finally guilt drives you to the manuscript--and that's when the real ritual begins.  (I should go back to the first person, because in this respect everyone's different.)  I have to start by reading.  I read a lot of what I've already written...even though I already know it all by heart.  I read the notes I made to myself the day before when I stopped writing--those were the end-of-the-day ritual, to help with the starting of the next.  During this process I've picked up one of the toys scattered around my study, and my fingers are half-consciously playing with it: a shell, a smooth sea-washed pebble... I have been known to blow bubbles, from a little tube that sits on my desk, and to sit staring at the colors that swirl over their brief surfaces.  This is the moment someone else usually chooses to come into the room, and I can become very irritable if they don't appreciate that they are observing a writer seriously at work.

What I'm doing, of course, is taking myself out of the world I'm in, and trying to find my way back into the world apart.  Once I've managed that, I am inside the book that I'm writing, and am seeing it, so vividly that I do not see what I'm actually staring at...

We cast spells to find our way into the unconscious mind, and the imagination that lives there, because we known that's the only way to get into a place where magic is made.  "Open sesame!" I am shouting, silently, desperately to the door of my imagination, as I play with the pebble I found on a distant island beach, as I stare at the wall.

-Susan Cooper, "Worlds Apart." Origins of Story: On Writing for Children.  Eds. Barbara Harrison and Gregory Maguire.

Good luck to everyone starting a project--of any kind.  The hardest part is to actually sit down and start.  If you can do that, you can do anything, provided you have enough patience and persistence.