I’ve just reached the end of my second draft. It will soon be time to get the red marker back out, contour the book like all those You-Tube make up tutorials I keep seeing. I am not a fan.
Have to admit, I never thought I would be here, with a story and the novel desire for it to be seen. I spent so long thinking ‘I haven’t got time’ or ‘I can’t so this’ or ‘I can’t write’ or even ‘who do you think you are?’ at the worst moments. A barrage of thoughts all coming from one place, paralysing self-doubt, the monkey in your ear, the limbic system shaking itself down.
You can’t have a blank canvas as a writer, but we all have them. The blank, winking word document, the new notebook still bare, the lined A4.
Write. Just write.
Allow yourself to write drivel. Be liberal with the adverbs and aggressive with the passive. Fight with the Oxford comma and prepositions and dangling particles and split infinitives. Write long sentences that lose their meaning and short ones that tell you nothing. Be boring and cliche and repetitive and use ‘that’ and ‘very’ and ‘really’ with relish.
But write, just write.
Some people get overwhelmed about writing a novel. Understandable, 0 to 90,000 would unsettle anyone. You worry about word counts and perfect prose and plot and characters and story arcs and forget that without a first draft you will have nothing to edit. Plots can be changed, characters filled out, arcs made more complete, prose crafted, word counts managed.
But you have to begin. You have to write.
Write anywhere. Whilst you wait for your kids at home time, during breaks at work, in carparks and on buses and when you take the train. Write in the early mornings before the house wakes up and late of a night when it’s dark and quiet. Write in cafes and in the park, before a doctor’s appointment or while feeding a baby at your breast. In your garden amongst the flowers and birds, in your free time instead of doing something else. Write in the shed or garage and even in the bath if that’s your thing.
Go back to the blank page. Never be afraid of it. I know it sometimes feels like a angry, drunk heckler is sprawled across the space. Sometimes you hear your Mum’s voice scolding you or that teacher in year eight who told you would amount to nothing.
Still, just write.
We are stories, lives sewn together though narrative and themes and nuance. You tell yourself stories and others tell you stories and you read stories and share stories and make up stories woven from the seams of your lives and these stories need to be heard. Need to be shared.
There is room for them all and a roaring appetite.
So, just write!
Do you struggle to write? What holds you back?
© Copyright Henrietta M Ross
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