If someone were to ask me for writing advice – and I don’t know why they would, since I’m only seventeen and have been writing seriously for the last four years – I would tell them, “Start. Just start writing.”
Beginnings are hard for me.
Oh, I have trouble figuring out how to end essays or stop my stories from dragging in the middle but really, those things are easy compared to beginnings. My brain constantly buzzes with ideas (sometimes it gets to the point where I wish I could shut it off) but I drag my feet when it comes to actually writing about them. Of course I write them down so I don’t forget, but those are just notes. Two scribbled sentences hardly counts as writing out the entire essay / story / whatever.
As you can see, my problem isn’t a lack of ideas. Rather, it’s a combination of too many (where do I possibly begin?) and a fear that when I do pick something, my writing won’t be perfect.
Gosh, I had trouble with that in this very post. I wasn’t sure what my opening sentence should be. I worried that a sentence might be out of place or that I should’ve chosen a different word in that one spot. Eventually, I sternly told myself, “Get over it, nevillegirl! This post won’t be written if you don’t even try!”
And that’s what I’m trying to tell you. The worst kind of writer’s block is the kind you may not even realize you have. It’s the kind that cripples you before you’ve even started. Ignore that little voice inside your head that says, “You suck! You’re an idiot who should have never been taught to write! Please shut up!”
Tell that little voice to go away and then start writing. Don’t worry if you don’t know every last little detail about your main character, or if your research paper is missing an anecdote at the beginning, or whatever. Quit worrying that your writing isn’t perfect, because you know what? It’s not. Especially if it’s a first draft… but even published authors have things they wish they’d changed before their books went to press.
Time for an analogy. Let’s say you have to travel a mile. How are you going to get there? By car, by bicycle, or by foot? (For the more creative types, I suggest by Apparition, by TARDIS, or by Shadowfax.) You agonize over that choice. You like being in the fresh air and walking or biking lets you do that, but driving there would be faster. Hours go by as you think and think and think some more.
By now you’re probably mentally screaming, “IT DOESN’T MATTER, JUST PICK SOMETHING ALREADY!” That’s exactly what I mean. You’ll never get anywhere if you don’t even try. Well, it works the same way with writing.
Several people I know, mainly my parents, have questioned the wisdom of doing NaNoWriMo. “With all that frantic writing, how do you expect to end up with anything good?” they ask. Guys. Of course it’s not going to be perfect. That’s not the point. The point is that for me (and thousands of other NaNoers) this month serves as a kick in the pants. The point is that I pick a wordcount goal that corresponds to the estimated length of my story and then I spend a month gleefully pouring all my writerly thoughts into a Word Doc. The point is that I dawdle when it comes to getting started on, well, anything (my mom can testify to this when it comes to math assignments) and sometimes I need an exterior motive telling me to freaking start already no your writing won’t be perfect on the first try but you’ll never know its potential if you don’t start.
In the end, it doesn’t matter how you begin writing – go ahead, write down that opening sentence or paragraph that doesn’t satisfy you. As long as it gets you going, it doesn’t matter what your first try is like. You can always change it later and besides, you don’t even have to show it to anyone right away.
So go ahead.