Saturday, May 7, 2011

How to sit down and write

The journey of writing -

The first time I sat down to write a book, I got a lot of work done around the house.

It seems an odd statement, but it's true. Whether you want to write the greatest novel ever or something small like a poem or song, there comes a point where you need to get around to writing it. While I say "sitting down", you don't actually have to do so if you prefer to write while lying down or standing up. ;)

Coming up with the story is usually the easy part. Maybe you come up with ten stories, and can't decide between them, but there's always some sort of story. Even most poems and songs have a story or central idea.

I started out by trying my hand at a few poems. Then I went on to short stories and finally a novel. But the same thing held true with all of them. The hardest part was sitting down and actually writing the thing.

So you finally decide you're going to sit down and put that idea you have in words. You turn on your computer, boot it up and turn on your internet browser. First you want to check your favorite pages: twitter, facebook, sports, blog and the like. Then you have to write a few comments or responses to various things. You have to tweet that you've finally sat down to write as well.

Two hours have passed and you realize that you haven't even opened a blank document to write in, so you do that immediately! While that's opening, you have to go to the bathroom. Then you have to get a fresh drink. The problem is: you're out of your favorite drink. Time to make a quick run to the store.

At the store, you meet your neighbor. She tells you about an event she'd like you to attend. It's for charity of course. Perhaps you can spend some of your time to help out a little bit.

Two months later, you open up a new blank document. This time, you're really going to write . . . just as soon as you check the page views on your blog . . .

Okay, so that's how it works. When I first started writing, I found myself doing stuff around the house. I got some things fixed, a corner of the attic was cleaned out. All of my laundry was washed, things like that. It happens. Life has a lot of distractions.

Writing takes a lot of focus. There comes a point where you have to force yourself to remain in the seat and start writing. Just say no to housework and charity for a while. I have a family with three kids who want attention quite often. (silly little buggers) I have to be responsible and do a semi-decent job of raising them, but there comes a point where it's okay to tell them they need to let you write.

Writing -
Now that you've sat down, and you're ignoring that last load of laundry and that letter to your congressman that you've been meaning to write for the last 2 years, you need to write.

"It was a dark and stormy night" . . . no no no. *jam down the backspace key* "It was a bright and sunny day" . . . *jam the backspace again* . . . *sigh dramatically*

It's very hard to sit down and write. The first thing you need to do is sit down and force yourself to focus on the story. The second thing you need to do is actually write. This is the second place where a person gets hung up.

I always expect that first sentence to have some glowing, divine light shooting out of it. I want an epic "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" sort of entrance. It's not going to happen. For all we know, he re-wrote that 20 times before getting it right. He probably started with "It was a dark and stormy night" just like the rest of us. ;)

Write something.  Even if it's not great.  Just start writing.  Write the first sentence or line, then the next and the next.  After you're done with your first paragraph, you're probably going to hate it.  Don't change it right now though.  Go ahead and write your second, and your third.

The first key to writing is to sit down and write!  It's also the hardest.  I can't stress enough that the best way to get started is to sit down.  Stay seated.  Write.  Write some more.  Write even more.  Don't stop writing.
After a while, you'll get some momentum.  You'll get a flow going.  You might even start to have fun. :)
Best of luck to you.  :)


marsanderson said...

I find this particularly amusing at the moment, since I turned on my computer to write a research paper. About two hours ago.

John H. Carroll said...

That's hilarious. *grin* I'm sorry I contributed to your distraction. *mischievous chuckle*


Anonymous said...

Haha! I woke up early to write my story, but all I did was edit old stuff!

John H. Carroll said...

lol, that's technically working on writing too, so it's okay.