WHAT TO DO (WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO)

It happens to all of us.  We are going along – everything is smooth sailing – and then something happens that brings our creative flow to a screeching halt!  It can something simple.  It can be something that knocks us to our knees.  Whatever it is, we suddenly find ourselves stuck behind that seemingly insurmountable wall known as writer’s block – it suddenly seems as if our creative muse has left the building, leaving us floundering around just trying to stay afloat.  That’s exactly where I’ve found myself for the last couple of weeks.  I just couldn’t find my inspiration.  My passion seemed to have faded away.  No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t make sense of my ideas.  I felt lost.

It’s almost as if the “powers that be” must have been watching – knowing exactly what I needed to hear – or read, that is – because I ordered a book for an upcoming class I’m registered for, and as I sat, thumbing through the first few pages, those words I needed to hear jumped out at me:

“While I’m sure you can think of good reasons to procrastinate, I very much doubt there’s much real merit in any of them.  There is no need to wait for inspiration; no need to find your confidence; no need to know exactly why or what you’re writing; no need to read wise and thoughtful books about how to write; no need to understand your characters; no need to be sure you’re on the right track; no need even for your research to be complete.  No need now.  Later on, it will be very nice indeed to have some or all of these fine things.  You will of course eventually want inspiration and confidence and self-knowledge in your project…But every single one of these things -even the research – comes to you only in the process of writing.  They are the result of writing.  If you let any one of them immobilize you before you write, I can guarantee that a year from now you will still be waiting to begin.”  Koch goes on to say that “[s]o instead of waiting until everything is perfect, begin anyhow, anywhere, and any way.  The result probably won’t be exactly right.  It might not even be close.  So what?  You’re going to persist until you get it right” (pg 4)

~Stephen Kock, The Modern Library Writer’s   Workshop

As soon as I read those words, I got up, went to my computer, opened a new Word document, and wrote the opening paragraph for a new story idea I’d been toying around with in my mind.  In that one paragraph, I pulled together every concept I’d been taught over the course of my MA program.  I opened myself up and wrote from the heart.  And, surprisingly enough, even I thought it sounded okay.  The gratitude I felt towards Mr. Kock overwhelmed me in that moment because his wise words helped me scale the wall of whatever it was that blocked me – that made me feel like I simply couldn’t do it.  It is my sincere hope that his words will touch the heart of other writers who are going through the same thing.  Just remember – you don’t have to be perfect – you just have to start!

Happy Writing, Everyone!

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