“Cursor”-y Thoughts on the Writing Process

Why is writing so hard?  I’ve been thinking about this for the last couple of days.  I can feel so confident about my writing abilities and then it’s like the bottom falls out.  I want to be one of those people who can just pour words but it actually takes a lot of time and real work to get things done.

I think about writing more than I actually write.  I wish those hours counted.  I guess they pay off when you’re down in the trenches of the pages but they can feel like such an enormous waste of time.  I’m always questioning myself and how dutiful I’m being with the writing.  Because the fact of the matter is that it can be going great for a few days and then go to crap for the next week.  And I want to think I’m always on and always ready to go but… it just doesn’t work that way.  I get tired.  I get distracted.  I don’t want to do it.  Sometimes I’ll know that I should be writing but it’s just the last thing I want to be doing right then.  I can think of about 10 other things I could be doing with my time.  I could spend my time making lists of those things.  I’ve probably done that actually.

What I’m trying to say here is that keeping focused when writing is almost as hard as actually writing.  I went to Walmart the other night and spent part of a giftcard I got from my grandma on a tray to put all of my random pages in.  I’ve got so much paper just sitting around and I don’t know what to do with it.  I don’t even like thinking about those pages.  I put some of them into the tray.  I’ve gotta figure out how to make sense of them.  And they go off in so many different directions, it gives me a headache just thinking about it.

I wanted to say that because I think one of the best things you can do when you’re trying to write is to let go of all of the distractions.  Because basically, writing is a very simple thing.  All you really have to do is position yourself at the edge, between where the writing stops and the blank space begins.  I mean where the cursor is flashing on your computer screen and where your pen or pencil is making lines on your paper.  That one spot is where all of the action is for a writer.  That’s the one tiny place that needs your undivided attention.  They say the only thing you really have to do to call yourself a writer is write.  And that is so simple but it’s so hard.  You can imagine filling up a book with words and thoughts.  You can imagine it being brilliant and enjoyed by others.  But that all happens in your head.  And there’s a difference between something happening in your head and something happening on the page.  And you’ve gotta claw that stuff out.  You’ve gotta concentrate and put it down.  And for some reason, that is a freaking hard thing to do.

I’m mentioning the cursor thing because the thought helps me.  Because writing can be an overwhelming thing to think about.  If you break it down to the basics, it can make it easier to plan your attack.  It’s like trying to run a long distance.  If all you do is focus on how far you’ve gotta go you’ll never even start.  But if you look at it as just a bunch of steps, it’s easier to think about.

I have a file on my computer that’s kind of like a journal.  It isn’t for sharing purposes.  In fact, I think of it more as a place where I can practice.  I don’t have rules there so much.  I don’t edit myself if I spell something wrong or use the same words too many times.  But what I think is neat about it is I shrink the box down to a little square that’s basically the size of about 5 words.  And then I zoom in really close on it so all I can see on my 21.5-inch screen are the last few words I’ve typed.  They’re HUGE.  But I like writing this way because it takes me out of the actual page.  Because when you write, you have to look at words.  And I’m not always inspired by words.  In fact, I wish I could look out the window or drive in a car and write at the same time because those thoughts are usually more interesting to me than the ones I have when I’m sitting at my computer.  But when I write without even being able to read what I’m putting down I can really let my mind get loose and it isn’t as weighted down as it normally is.  I can think faster and freer.  And that’s an exciting thing for a writer.  ‘Cuz you are always having to slow down to get the thoughts down.  You think the thoughts, then you sit and put them down.  And that’s a whole process that takes time and effort.  And then you’ve gotta think new thoughts to write down.  And you’re constantly going back and forth.  And the dream/hope is that you’ll be able to write so clearly and effortlessly that a reader could get so lost in the words that they forget that they’re even reading.   And that can look easy to do when you’re reading stuff like that but it’s actually really hard to pull off on the writing end.  Believe me!

Anyway, I just wanted to throw that out.  It seemed like it was worth sharing.

Good luck, fellow writers!  I’m out.



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