January 03, 2012

Steve Pomper

Relax and Write

author photoseattle curiositiesI can’t tell you how many times, before sitting down to write, I feel there’s just nothing there, and it’ll be a waste of my time anyway because I don’t feel motivated. In fact, before I wrote this piece, I had this notion. It can be made worse if the writer, or someone else, puts increased pressure on him or her to perform, and perform well.

Just remember, the primary goal is to get something down on the page. If you only write when you’re inspired, you’re not a real writer, or at least, you’re not prepared to do the hard work to become one.

There’s this nifty invention called the delete button. If you want to go old school, there’s another invention—I keep one at the ready by my desk—called, the trashcan. It’s a wonderful place to file that unintended excrement that tends to flow out of even the best of writers on occasion. If crumpling up the paper is not destructive enough for you, shredders provide visceral pleasure while destroying writing you’ve disowned.

I can’t emphasize enough how important just sitting down and putting pen to pad or fingers to keyboard is to any writer. Once you start, sometimes you find your fingers can’t stop. To get going, sometimes I’ll commit to writing only 200, 300, or 400 words. Something relatively short, and then I can stop. Inevitably I’ll exceed whatever quotas I’ve set.

The key is to relax and write. Let the first sentence or two, or even paragraph or two, be crap. Go ahead. Just risk it. You know you got the crap in you. Make a game of it. You should always go back to edit and revise anyway. Take a few breaths. Or maybe read a page or two of a novel you’re reading just to get those juices flowing. And don’t forget about the trashcan and shredder. But you never know. You just might produce that gem you’ve been hoping for.


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