Getting those first words of the day down on the page can be the worst. Thing. Ever. Writing my second thesis, it was a challenge to get going every single day.* To stop staring at the blank white page and the damn blinking cursor that mocked me. You’ve been looking at me for an hour, it says. Nothing done yet. I’m just gonna blink here, ticking away the seconds of your life.
Eventually, though, I figured out a few ways to get past that initial block. Some of them involved drinking. Another was mainly about yelling at the cursor that I was in control, damn it, I will write the shit out of you, who’s winning now, YOU LITTLE BLINKING ASSHOLE.
Thesis time was intense.
Many of the lessons I learned there cross over to fiction writing, though. And the experience of writing a very big thing with a very definite deadline was instructive. You have to get it done. There is no time to sit around watching YouTube and jerking off. Do that on your own time. This is writing time, god damn it. So here’s how to get started:
1) Brush up on your physics. Understand what’s really happening here by applying the principle of inertia: a body at rest tends to stay at rest unless acted upon by an outside force.**
In other words, it’s harder to get started than to keep going. And that you need to push to start. What that push is depends on you, but keep in mind that coffee/cigarettes/monkey adrenal glands will only take you so far. Look for your push in the same place you look for an alien pupal sac: within.
2) Kill the editor, stuff the body in a cigar box and bury it at the cross roads. You never know, it might sprout into a Criticism Tree. Which is like a Giving Tree, but all it grows are snarky one-star reviews.
You can’t get started if you’re already worried that you’re doing it wrong. So slip a knife quietly between the internal editor’s ribs and write something. It might suck. It might be great. But, whatever it is, it’ll get you started.
Oh, and don’t worry about the editor. That bitch comes back more than an indecisive vampire.
3) Break out the tequila and nipple clamps, it’s fun time. You can’t get started if you’re dreading it. Well, you can, but you’ll waste quintuple the time on Twitter and Buzzfeed first.
Find the fun in what you’re doing. Getting the blog post started today was hard, so I decided to look forward to the ridiculous figurative language I use to write here. Tequila! Alien parasites! Crossroads murder! Yelling at cursors!
It’s all fun and games until you punch through your monitor.
4) Write a blog post. Well, that was easy.
*The first one, oddly, went much easier.
**Scientists: yes, I’m aware this is a colloquial approximation. I’m trying to make a point, not write an essay on Newtonian physics.