The accusing gaze of the flashing cursor on the empty page

Great advice on the terror of starting out on a new anything from Stephen Deas in his first type-along NaNoWriMo post (among other things!).

I have terrible trouble with starting. Not with starting a new project, usually; part of the low-flying seagull of inspiration is usually a beginning, or maybe it’s that I don’t start writing actual narrative until I feel that I have to, compulsive planner that I am. But starting a new chapter or section of the story? I can stare at that for weeks – both physically at the empty screen, and figuratively as I stare out the train window and just past people’s ears in social situations.

The standard breakdown of the period between writing-group deadlines for me can be summarised as:

  • two days of strict and careful planning of story points to be covered in the next chapter (or two, if I’m ambitious)
  • five to twenty days of trying to figure out where to start
  • a week of scraping words together, only to find the place where I should have started
  • two days of fluent writing to complete the chapter, usually the two days before pieces are due for writing-group.

So advice about kicking myself into starting is invaluable, even if it turns out later I started in the wrong spot. (Chances are, I would have done that anyway.) And Stephen Deas’s gem —

“So here’s a trick for getting started if you’re struggling: pillage.”

— has just kicked me off perfectly on my next chapter.

And I’m not even struggling with the plagiarist guilts, because I pillaged from myself. I have an advantage here, inasmuch as in the thing I’m working on, I’m telling three stories in parallel, so I can reach over to chapter 7 of another POV and pilfer the first paragraph. Or, actually, once I got my edit on, the first line. OK fine, the first five words and a general rhythm.

But it worked. Words on the damn page. UNDERWAY. (And there are still SIX days before writing-group deadline, so nyah. >.>)

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