Starting Small

July 10, 2009 at 3:19 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

I know we all want to write the book – you know, the one kids read when their parents think they’re asleep, the one they smuggle into math class.  The one that makes them think, that rewrites their values and rewires their perceptions.  We all (at least, I hope I’m not the only one) want to write that book, and we all have some idea of what that entails.   Some of us have had the plot outlined since before we started on solid food; others have been talking to themselves – er, sorry, their characters – for years.

This post is more for the people who, like me, haven’t.  The ones who have just a ghost of a concept and a few fleeting, elusive characters.  The ones who know they want to write the book, but don’t have half a clue where to start.

Here’s my advice to you: don’t.  Not yet.  There’s no need to prove your writerly writerness with a substantial (or even two-digit) word count right now.  The fact is that you’re probably not ready yet.  I’ve worked several promising premises right in the ground by trying to force them onto the keyboard too soon.  I get the idea and instantly want to write it, edit it, get it published and get it into bookstores now.  And when I’m just a few meagre pages in and I realize this story is actually going nowhere, I label the senselessness as writer’s block and gun on through.

The result?  Countless potential masterpieces burned out before the manuscript even reaches double digits.

So if you’re at the point where you’re just unlearning the lies you were taught in third grade (i.e. adjective are your friends) and starting to reread your favourite books with an editor’s eye, put your grand idea on the back burner and just let it simmer.  Take it slow.  Be a promiscuous writer.  Flirt with different ideas.  Write whatever comes into your head.  It doesn’t have to be planned, it doesn’t have to be chronological, it doesn’t have to be consistent and it definitely doesn’t have to make sense.  Write short stories, write depressing poetry, write in your diary, write down an interaction with your household pet.  It doesn’t have to be perfect.  Play.  Experiment.  Be totally and completely incoherent.  Just… y’know… write.

You’ll get there.

<3, Terri

Oh my god there is a huge bug in the window what is that bug holy crap it’s huge it looks like it could swallow me whole oh my god oh my god oh my god what a freaking HUGE bug.


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  1. I started reading it and then I started wondering where I’d read it before. And then I remembered. :D I’m such an idiot sometimes…

    Great post Terri :)

    • LOL. Can’t imagine why you’d find it familiar. :P

  2. Patience is a virtue. Just give things time to grow. Leave a half an idea floating in the back of your mind, the next time you look at it, it could have grown a whole foot in diameter. Ideas are funny like that. :D

  3. A huge bug? Run, Terri, run!!

    Oh, and lovely post.

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