All writers have a process that allows them to create. However, the art of "Writing" is often mistaken for that "Process." Hopefully this blog explains the difference, and inspires people to develop their crafts, become writers, or just keep on writing.

Monday, August 8, 2022

Spoiler: Godot Never Shows Up

I know a lot of people who have great stories within them, just waiting to be put to paper. Fascinating, complex adventures, some of which are even true, and all of which are worthy of their own novel. Some of these stories even exist in the minds of people who have written plenty of other things, and these special tales wait for the right opportunity to bring a particularly grand story to life. All it takes is that little something and they know they will write it up.

And so they wait. And nothing gets created.

Everyone has a good reason for not writing that one big story. Maybe it's waiting for inspiration. Sometimes there's one little blank that needs to be filled in. Perhaps it will all come out once the writer figures out that one magical opening line. Whatever the case may be, these become the Waiting for Godot reasons we make up that allow us to commit to writing the ultimate story while never actually writing the story. We can talk our big game about how we will be the one to create the Great American Novel and never be called out. But where's the fun in that?

If we really want to write that one great story, we need to find some way to push ourselves past that one great excuse, because that excuse will, by its very creation, never go away. That inspiration will never kick in, that blank will never be filled, and that perfect opening line will forever elude us. We have to cast all of that stuff aside and find a way to write our story without those things, and trust that when we have reached the right point, the things we need will finally show up.

The method I prefer for getting the story onto the page is having an accountability guide. This isn't anything elaborate or intricate, but it allows you to talk all you want about your story while actually making headway with it. This is easier to do if you regularly attend a writing workshop or some form of writing group, but it can just as easily be done with a spouse, a relative, or your drinking buddies - anyone who have have a certain amount of respect for.

The task is simple: Assign someone as your accountability guide, and make them a simple weekly promise. You don't have to tell this person your whole story, but you have to promise them that in one week, you will have the first chapter done. Or the first 1,000 words, the first page, whatever. Their job is equally simple: Your guide will ask to see your work at that time, and they will shame you if you don't have at least something to offer. This forces you to do something every week under fear of breaking a promise to your guide and feeling the shame of doing so. You would be amazed at how well this works.

Think of back in school when you didn't do your homework one day, and had to face up to the teacher giving you that look and asking what happened. The guilt, personal tension, and energy preparing for that dreaded moment probably took more effort than it would to have just lived up to your promise. Once you realize this, writing becomes easier, in part because there's a consequence for not doing what you said you would.

Now go out there and write something.

No comments:

Post a Comment