This morning I sat down to write a chapter of a novel and I made a HUGE MISTAKE.
I’m going to say that again, bigger. And longer.
And look, when you get to a really advanced age like me …
you realise you’ve made a heap of mistakes in your life and most of them haven’t mattered much. The worst thing about them is
all the time and effort you’ve wasted trying to cover them up.
So now, I think a better thing to do about mistakes might be to tell everyone about them.
Ever made a mistake and then admitted it? Did the world end? Was it a good idea to share it, or not? Tell us. Leave a comment. .
So this stupid thing I did …
It was probably the biggest mistake you can make when you want to write something new…
sat at the computer!
What was I thinking?
Well, that’s the thing, really. I didn’t know what I was thinking. Because
I NEVER KNOW WHAT I AM THINKING WHEN I SIT AT THE COMPUTER.
Just the sight of that white rectangle sets off some state in my brain that completely jams my thoughts.
STORY TIME. There’s this kid I know….
When he was a bit older than this, he said something that has really stayed with me. He was trying to tell his brother something. He said, ‘You can … I want … What if … We …‘
and then he did this foot-stomping thing and he said,
‘That thought will have to just stay in my head because I can’t make it come out.’
A blank screen, an empty sheet of paper.
They’ll do it to you every time.
Now. Back to me.
So there I was, trying to start writing this THING, and I knew what it was going to be about, and I knew what I wanted to say, but there was NO WAY it was coming out onto that screen.
I walked away from the desk. I decided not to try to force a thought about my writing.
And my message is …. it wasn’t cowardice. It was exactly the right thing to do.
And you’ve already noticed what I didn’t say …
I didn’t say I gave up.
And that’s a pretty important point. If you give up at this point you are still stuck.
So, yes, when you’re thoughts are stuck, walking away is really your only option. And a few pages ago I said it’s OK, so long as you do certain things first.
But the other important thing is…
what you do after you walk away.
Thanks to these people for the images
“Old Woman in Kyrgystan” by Jennifer Buzanowski, U.S. Air Force [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Old_woman_in_Kyrgyzstan_(2010).jpg