How Do YOU Start?
I can’t figure out how to title this post. It’s about commitment, see, and I just can’t seem to find the right title. So it’ll wait until the end I guess. Hopefully by then I’ll have figured it out.
I’m about to start a short story, a sort of prelude to DEMON HUNT, the 2nd novel in my Caine Brothers series. I’m primed – I’ve combed through my email, I’ve scoured Facebook, I’ve Triberr’d and Tweeted and gotten another cup of coffee, went to the bathroom, have music on…the house is empty and I’ve got a full four hours in front of me to be creative…
…but actually starting the story is still a dance step or two away from me. So now I’m procrastinating by blogging about my procrastination. I guess this whole thing is a process.
Commitment to the story is paramount. Deciding where to begin is crucial. I already have my characters, my setting, and I know where I want the story to end. But the variables within the parameters I’ve set are endless. Plus, plotting in any depth gives me hives. (Shallow plotting? I’m there!) How, then, to choose amongst a myriad of possibilities?
I don’t know why this story, at this time, has me balking at the gate like a skittish horse, but there you go. Its true, what every successful writer has said – writing doesn’t get easier as you go along. With every book, you learn how much you don’t know. With every book, you strive to get better – deeper, smarter, stronger. So the bar is constantly being raised, and the writer never meets their own expectations.
I guess I have to learn to be okay with that.
Panic doesn’t go away with knowledge. Accepting a hit of panic along with a floodtide of joyous writing seems to be the only way to go. Understanding that the fingers need to just begin – commit to the first words – then the rest of it will come. Permit ourselves to write a shitty first draft – farts and all – will at least get the draft down.
Revision after that is a writer’s best friend. DEMON SOUL went through six completely different first chapters (and numerous main character name changes) before I found the right first chapter to give the right tone to the story. That sixth new first chapter was what helped me sell to the editor.
I know all I need to do is hop to it. Get the words down. 15,000 of them (short story, remember). Once they’re down, I can groom them, perfume them, pluck their collective eyebrows and give them a lovely glow with the right foundation. Once it’s all dressed up in its go-to-party outfit, the story will be ready for publication, and I’ll be one more step on the road to realizing how much I still don’t know.
I guess I’m ready to start. After I get myself another cup of coffee, put on some socks (my feet are cold), and change my playlist to something more soothing than Muse.
What about you? What do you find yourself doing, before you feel ready to plunge into a new project? (Ah, there it is…my title!) I’d love to hear about your tricks and tips to getting those first words down.