Friday, June 3, 2011
In Which I Begin Writing My Next Book....
Today I wrote the first 500 words of my next book.
Starting is surely the hardest thing! The idea for the story has been building, but until today, I hadn't felt ready to actually start writing. I'm sure you are familiar with this feeling, that tingly combination of fear and excitement that comes with beginning something new. I purposely set a goal of only 500 words so as not to put too much pressure on myself. I actually wrote 547 words, but who's counting.
Because getting started is so hard, I keep the advice of my idol, Anne Lamott, in the forefront of my mind.
When you ask yourself, "Where do I start?"
Anne Lamott answers, "You start where you are."
When you worry that it's not going to be any good, Anne gives you permission to write what she calls "a shitty first draft." The concept of the shitty first draft is so liberating, because one of the reasons we procrastinate getting started (I think) is our fear that what we write isn't going to be any good. And the fact is, what we first write usually isn't any good. It doesn't matter. What matters is that we begin.
What I wrote today is sparse and spotty and not very well written. It's pretty shitty. Anne would be proud of me. I know that the beginning I wrote today may not end up being the beginning of the book by the time I'm done. I know that the plot ideas I have in mind will change. I know that my characters will take on personalities that surprise me. But the only tingle I feel now is excitement, because today, my first three characters showed up and said stuff and did stuff. And tomorrow, I'll write another 500 words. More characters will show up, and they'll say and do stuff too.
It's okay that, right now, it's not very good and I don't know how it will all come out. Because the only thing that matters, right now, is that I've begun.