Blockhead

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Hoping for a triple word score.

I like to read about writing. (I even blogged about it.) And while I enjoy reading about writing for the simple sake of reading about writing, most often I’m reading about writing because I’m having trouble writing about… anything. That sounds like writer’s block, you say? Yes, I’m familiar with the term.

During a recent writing rut, I came across some interesting advice that compared writing a shitty first draft to running a marathon. Of course my first thought was, I have never actually completed a marathon so this comparison is completely useless. My second thought was, I have never actually completed a first draft of book-length proportions, so any and all advice will do. Also, I’ve tried running and I’ve tried writing and attempting to do too much of either almost always ends in me collapsing on the floor. So in the midst of my writer’s blah (when you’re writing, but it’s all very blah) I decided to give it a try.

The gist was this: you run a marathon from start to finish (I’m told). Considering this, you wouldn’t turn around and re-run sections of the race if your pace wasn’t perfect, now would you? (Would you? I dunno.) So, when writing your shitty first draft, write from start to finish. Don’t stop, turn around and re-write certain sections of your work. Perfection is not the point when it comes to finishing your first draft. Head down, forward motion and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. (Can you hydrate during a marathon with red wine? Again, I dunno.)

This made sense. And a few wavering edits notwithstanding, this is what I’ve attempted to do. The funny thing is, it’s starting to work! The further I ramble on into my story, the easier it is to keep writing. (This is not my experience with running long distances, however, where the further I ramble on, the harder it is not to die.)

I still stumble, stop, and sometimes fall. I often have to force myself to keep going, no matter how slow the going is. Much like running, I find the anticipation of a scheduled writing hour or two much more anxiety inducing than the act of writing itself. But now that my ideas are flowing more freely, I’ve started to look forward to each new run at this writing thing.

Who knows what this means for me. Maybe I’ve found a solution to my writer’s block? Maybe I can finally finish this first draft? Maybe I should run a marathon? I don’t know, but I’m excited.

(Actually, I do know, and the answers are maybe, hopefully and not bloody likely.)

3 thoughts on “Blockhead

  1. Hi there! I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed this blog post of yours… Not just this one but all of them because they are all equally great.

    I should mention that because of how much I loved this post of yours I had to check out your blog and I couldn’t help but follow you because your blog is both amazing and beautiful. I am so happy I came across your blog and found it because I do really love it and I truly can’t wait to read more from you, so keep it up (:

    P.s. This comment is towards all of your blog posts because they are all equally amazing and incredible, keep up the great work (:

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  2. I’m finding posts about writing so helpful and appreciate that you shared. I have these bursts of exciting things that come to mind and I can’t wait to write about it. When I find myself at a place to sit and write I don’t know where to start and how to prune a monolithic idea into a manageable part. It’s nice to hear how others are doing it!

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  3. I like the idea of the first draft as being like a marathon, which probably explains why I haven’t seriously started a novel. It has no appeal for me at all. All that sweating and pain for what? Just to cross the line behind all the rest and collapse on the ground writhing and drooling and calling out for 3.5 ounces of boiled chicken and a bowl of organic quinoa? Not for me. I’d much prefer a
    yoga approach – for the first five minutes -sit and breathe. I’ve so got this! Then stretch some things that stretch. All good. Eventually the flow arrives at body parts that don’t want to stretch, much like those times in the writing process where there are no words flowing prolifically out your fingertips. Now this is the point in yoga where many people will give up the
    pose and move on. But if you just take a few breaths and “press into it”, loe and behold, the musles relax and a deeper
    more satisfy stretch is achieved. For me
    “pressing into” a tight writing muscle
    works the same way. A bit of patience and the right phrase or word or idea will release. Sure, there may be some soreness the next day, but nothing that a little Shiraz (even the name sounds like yoga) and a half-bag of kettle (not kale) chips can’t handle. Happy Writing Shannon!

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