Here's more great writing advice from Barbara Kingsolver. "Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer."
Sunday, August 26, 2012
The Struggle of the Blank Page
"If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word." (Margaret Atwood)
I’m struggling to write a story now. I love to write. I have always wanted to write. I have always been writing something since I was ten years old and maybe before. I like the feel of a pen in my hand, a notebook open in front of me. I like my fingers perched over a keyboard ready to record whatever words pop into my head. I like filling the blank page. And yet, I often struggle to write. I put it off. I delay the hard work of getting the words of a story out of my head and onto this blank screen.I don’t struggle to write here in my on-line journal. These words come easy. I grab a picture off my phone or out of my photo files and write something that matches. Or not, as it turns out tonight. This picture is just one I really like and that I took last spring when the tree was blooming. That doesn’t have much to do with the struggle to write a book. But then, maybe it does. Maybe that’s what a writer needs – the seed of an idea that buds out into words that bloom into scenes on branches that lead back to the entire story or trunk of the tree and down into the roots of what the story is really about. Now that was reaching, wasn’t it?
Ah, but pulling those words out of my head is what I’ve always done. I do my best to make my characters get up off the black and white page of my imagination and explode out into the colorful pages, alive and ready to live their stories. Then comes the worry that the story is not going to be right. That’s a worry I have had to overcome with nearly every book I’ve ever written. Somewhere between the excitement of typing Chapter 1 and finally finding the end, I nearly always hit a slippery spot where the doubts bombard me and make me lose my confidence in the story. Then it’s good to remember what James Thurber said. "Don't get it right, just get it written."I can’t make anything better until I have it written. And after writing dozens of books, I know I’ve done it before and that perhaps, just perhaps, I’ll be able to do it again. I’ll be able to tell the story I set out to tell. Or if not that one, the one my characters reveal to me along the story road.
But here is the advice I’m going to have to keep in mind in the next few weeks as I look at a deadline headed my way with life pulling at me on every side.
"Planning to write is not writing. Outlining--researching--talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing." (E. L. Doctorow)And writing is what I’m going to do. As soon as I get this blog post finished - and check my messages - and...
Thanks for reading. I so appreciate each and every one of you who read this and those of you who take the time to leave a comment. For those of you curious about my post on Facebook that went viral, it has gotten over a million likes and nearly 12 million views. I have been moved by the many people who have wanted to celebrate with this one child who has defeated cancer. Many have shared their own fights against cancer or those of others in their families. I’ve scanned hundreds of the comments and have been impressed with the joyfulness of the comments. I’ve only seen two or three that were in any way negative. People are ready to hear good news.