“Each moment is a place you’ve never been.”
– Mark Strand
Are you a beginner? Good. We all are.
You’ve no doubt read countless sincere articles about beginner’s mind, the whole zen profound thoughts on beginning and starting fresh.
It doesn’t need to be that hard.
It’s just about starting - and more important, not over analyzing the project before you even start.
Beginners are curious. Beginners ask, What if?
Beginners block out that pernicious quote: If I knew what I was getting into, I would never had started. Start.
Start the story of your aunt like Julia Park Tracey did. Finish with a best selling series. Start your story of your mother, like Linda Joy Meyers did. Finish as the head of the Memoir Writers Association. Start by recording the crazy character who keeps talking in your head.
Beginner’s mind is another way of saying, get started.
You probably have read countless articles on starting - how to start an exercise program, how to start a successful diet, how to start a family. Starting a novel is much like starting a family. You do not give birth to a five year old. You give birth to a baby with, if you’re lucky, a small head.
Writing is just like that. You start small. You begin small.
Here is how:
Don’t start by working on a big novel, all day. Don’t even start writing for an hour.
Write on anything at all for 10 minutes.
Now stop and walk away. (You know, I tried pushing out that last baby for ten minutes and then volunteered to quit and just walk away. Obstetric nurses don’t have much of a sense of humor).
If it’s not a baby, you can return to your project the next day feeling rather refreshed. Feed that beginning effort with more words. Don’t rewrite, just add. In a few months you’ll have a respectful number of words that, once organized and edited, may reveal a theme and plot.
But small, start small. Because trying to give birth to a fully formed novel in one go, is very painful indeed.
To learn more.
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The theme is, Catharine Bramkamp, thank god there is only one of me.
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