Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Start something, anything - you might finish it

 
I have three writing gigs going, and a house with six bedrooms, of which we use only one. Then there are five rooms downstairs, a laundry room and two big bathrooms. Not to mention the wrap-around porch. Oh, and the whole house is standing by a toothpick.

I know why the house is always in such a state of disarray, because sometimes it’s just too much. My husband helps where he can, but the lion’s share of keeping our lives together falls to me. Sometimes I decide I don’t feel like writing so I go to sort the wash. Then I realize I have nowhere to put all the fresh laundry because I still haven’t weeded out all the clothes that don’t fit or are out of style, because they might fit or come back into style one day. So I give up and decide to dust.

Big mistake. This house creates dust so fast that if I don’t dust every day, which I don’t, it gets out of control. Looking at this overwhelming task, even in just one room, I am immediately defeated and go look for something else to accomplish. I start to think about doing laundry, then remember the previous laundry dilemma and give up on that, too. And the vicious cycle continues.

I end up back at the computer to write, but my muse is nowhere to be found. Then I remember seeing a tweet the day before that said, “Write just one page, one paragraph, one sentence, one word…” So I dust off an old idea and try. It’s slow going. Very slow going. After 20 minutes I’ve written three sentences. They are three good sentences though. Pretty soon I realize that I’ve written that one word, that one sentence, that one paragraph and then some. I’m still not enthused about writing, but I keep going, thinking that now I can stop any time and not feel guilty.

Before I know it I’ve got a good start to my story and decide to keep at it. And I finish. It only needed to be two pages, but those two pages were nowhere to be found the last time I sat down to write. If only I could apply this theory to housecleaning - well, then I’d get no writing done because I’d be cleaning all the time.

So the house is going to stay in disarray. I still get paralyzed by writing sometimes, the way I get paralyzed when trying to figure out where to start the rest of my life, but at least each piece has a defined finish. Which makes it easier to start writing that first word. If only the house would stay clean after I finish, maybe I’d try folding that first t-shirt and then actually find a place to put it.
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