Swimming with Words

Writing is a solitary occupation. I sit alone, wrangling the words into a cohesive shape. Nothing is better. Nothing is worse.

At the onset, staring at that blank page is almost the cliché of feebleness. You start with an empty space and attempt to fill it with meaning. But then something happens.

I’ll back up a little to fully mix my metaphors. When I go to the pool, I am a total wuss. Everyone else leaps right in, but I balk at the side. I never want to gradually enter, because that is even worse. But the thought of the sudden immersion in the fairly chilly water is none too palatable. Yet once I do jump, my body instantly adapts. Within moments, I get used to the water and I’m fine.

The same goes for writing. The empty page is like the pool. I balk at diving in. But once I start putting words on paper, my mind adapts. There’s a flow that happens. My critical and self-loathing side of my brain is turned down to simmer and the wave of creativity carries me forward. 

This is the best feeling. 

One trick I have to overcome that initial balk of diving in is to review the work I’ve done before. Just a page or two to relax my body and lubricate the synapses. Then, when I hit virgin territory, the momentum can sometimes carry me forward. 

It helps to use the Hemingway technique of stopping mid-scene the day before. I like to leave off in a state of excitement so when I pick it up again, I’m eager to dive in. I often jot down notes to where I want to go so I even have an outline. 

Don’t let any sort of block keep you from creating.

Tim Kane

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