If you’re anything like me, you stress a lot about beginning a project but once you get going, you’re fine. This has been the bane of my existence since my teenage years, when suddenly I learned how to distract myself with things that weren’t good for me (those confounded hormones!). And it’s been all I can do ever since to try and get back to the free-wheeling habits of my childhood, when I was a fearless creator.
It’s true, I didn’t expect Book 2 to be an easy writing project (see last post), but I was beginning to think over the last two weeks, as I attempted to delve into the world of The Stowaways again, that I had ‘lost it’: lost my mind, lost my muse, lost my passion, lost my nerve…
But I had an inkling, and this is only from the experience of having written a novel before, that somewhere inside me I would find whatever it was I needed to begin again.
The thing that helped me get over the hump this time around is a piece of advice that my friend Jodi learned from a mentoring session she had with author Madeleine Thien. Apparently, Madeleine spends the first part of her day reading rather than writing. At first I thought this would be way too distracting for me, but since I was getting nowhere by acting on Things I Thought Were True About Myself, I decided to give it the ol’ “Costanza”: a Seinfeld term I use when considering doing the opposite of what I usually do, in hope of a wildly better result.
So this week I have been allowing myself to start my day by reading. I read for as long as it takes to relax the fear in me so I can sit down and write the 1,000 word daily goal I’ve set.
So far, it’s working. By the time I’ve read for 3 hours, I’m tired of holding the book up and I’m ready to change chairs and put into words the scene I’ve conjured up while reading. (If anything, I think more clearly about my own book while I’m reading someone else’s – sometimes I have to re-read a page of a novel several times because I’ve gone off the page and started fantasizing about my own book…)
So why not give it a try if you are having difficulties getting started on a daunting project. Read until you can’t help but write. For me, it’s a much nicer way to spur myself into action than the usual self-loathing guilt trip.
P.S. Madeleine Thien is an incredible writer – check out Dogs At The Perimeter – and a lovely, generous person to boot. If you have the opportunity to attend one of her workshops or readings, do it!