I’m having trouble getting started. Again.
I’ve got a draft, and it’s pretty far along. It’s almost publish-ready. But life has gotten in the way… in a big way. This isn’t the first time I’ve had to take a hiatus from writing, but it’s one of the longer stretches. Now, getting back into it is almost as overwhelming as starting to begin with.
Getting started is where the work is at.
Remembering the details, getting back into the heads of the characters, seeing all of the connections—most of all, feeling the story. The story has its own mood, its own voice, its own purpose. To bear witness to all of that, to write it, requires being present with it and in it. It means stepping into a disparate reality. The hinges of that doorway grow stiff and creaky with disuse.
I know I’m mixing metaphors here, but it’s almost like I have jetlag. Everything is foggy and tired. It takes me a minute to recombobulate and feel “all there” again.
Sometimes getting started feels pointless.
My biggest challenge in getting started is mental.
Lately, it seems like every time I start to crest over that hump—just as I start to get excited about writing again—I have to stop. Life (you know, the real one) draws me away. We all have family commitments and sudden events that take precedence for urgency.
Unfortunately, now I find that, even when I can anticipate a fairly solid block of time for myself, I just can’t do it. I can’t bring myself to start. It’s because somewhere deep, I can’t bring myself to believe there’s any point in it. Instead, I focus on something my brain allows me to, something I actually have a chance to finish, to accomplish. Something I can at least expect to make a reasonable dent in if the next hour is all I have because tomorrow has not been faithful to me.
When I catch myself in those patterns, I begin to work backward. I psychoanalyze myself until I arrive at… pretty much everything you just read.
Sometimes you get a catalyst, sometimes you don’t.
Well, a friend of mine just talked me into doing a collaborative Cinderella retelling. When she first asked, all I could think was that I didn’t even have time for the writing that’s important to me (oof). It seemed like one more thing to keep me away from my novel baby.
I don’t have time to write just for fun. Double oof. What am I doing to myself?
So I said yes. I mostly still felt like I was doing something nice for my friend. But you know what? I discovered something. I can think about this. There’s no pressure. I wrote a whole (albeit disconnected) chapter on the fly. And you know what else? It was fun.
There are words coming out of me again. Maybe it’s because the only commitment is to have something short once in a while to send to someone who’ll be excited about it. Maybe it’s just a matter of scope and scale.
So I had an idea.
First, I’ll tell you what I’m not doing. I’m not writing for two hours a day. I’m not keeping track of word counts. I am not even setting goals (not yet).
But I am using a writing log. Every day I write anything, I jot it down in the slot for that date. Today, I’ll jot down “blog,” even if I don’t finish it, because I wrote words for the blog today. And I’ll know words came out of me today.
At the end of the week, I may have slots that say Blog, or novel, or Cinderella. I may have a few blank slots, too. But now my goal is so simple and so attainable: I just want words today. Any words. Any amount of words. I just want to look back and see that words came out of me this week. Words came out of me this month. Words keep coming out of me.
I want to show myself there’s a point to putting words down. That I’ll get to keep putting words down. That it’s worth it to put in the effort.
The more I see that words have come, the easier it is to believe that words will keep coming—and that sitting in front of a computer isn’t a waste of precious time.
About the Writer: Kathryn Tamburri (@KathrynTamburriAuthor) writes clean YA epic fantasy novels which seethe with slow-burn romance. You can find more of her writing tips on The Devo Blog at KathrynTamburri.com, and learn from her publishing journey by subscribing to her fun author newsletter!
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