Everyone starts out writing with the same hopeful, optimistic energy. You have a great idea that would make a good story, and so you sit down and write. Eventually, however, something slows you down (unless you’re Steven King who apparently writes entire novels in his head and then just transcribes them) and you find you’re lost. You know where you want to end up, but you have no idea how to get there. To me, this is the equivalent of being at the Colosseum in Rome and trying to find your way to the Spanish Steps. You understand exactly where you are, but navigating to the Spanish Steps with a Roman map is like trying to follow the varicose veins on your grandmother’s thigh: downright impossible. You loop, you curl, and if you hold the map upside down maybe you can find your way...but no. There are no straight lines in Rome and there are no straight lines in writing. You are stuck.
At this point in writing, many people abandon the project and decide that their great idea is really a shitty idea. Others sit at their computer, eyes fixed on the screen and wait for something to show up. They’ll wait hours, days, months even (with a lot of email and facebook in between)! What both the quitter and the sitter don’t realize is that it’s not important what you write, all that is important is that you do write.
TLC: I have a client who is pressed for time due to her very full day job and feels an overwhelming pressure that she's not moving forward with her writing unless she's sitting down at her laptop pounding away until 4 am which leaves her utterly exhausted. My tip to her which is also your ACTION this week: when not able to write, take a camera (most cell phones have them now) and shoot images that inspire story or characters (use them in your blog, if applicable, to underscore the message). Use the voice record feature on your smart phone to capture thoughts or go old school and use a good old journal and pen. The biggest part of writing is observing. Be open.
About the Contributor:
Jessica Anya Blau is the author of newly released DRINKING CLOSER TO HOME, which has been called "a raging success" and "unrelentingly sidesplittingly funny." Her first novel, THE SUMMER OF NAKED SWIM PARTIES, was picked as a Best Summer Book by the Today Show, the New York Post and New York Magazine. The San Francisco Chronicle and other newspapers chose it as one of the Best Books of the Year. Jessica lives in Baltimore and teaches at Goucher College.