Thursday, January 18, 2007

That sounds stupid!

Convince yourself that you are working in clay, not marble, on paper not eternal bronze: Let that first sentence be as stupid as it wishes.
— Jacques Barzun

I found this quote quite recently and it hit home. Which of us doesn't have days where we stare at our computer screen, or our paper, for hours without writing a word? Or, we do write, but delete everything we say within a few minutes of writing it because it's 'so horrible'?

For the past six weeks I have been away from writing anything of substance. I have edited. I 'changed it up' (as per my last post), and wrote mindless RPG. But, I have goals to meet. I have to get back to actual writing.

For the past three days I've tried to do just that. To buckle down and begin writing again. I pulled up to my desk with a certain level of excitement at knowing I was halfway done. The upcoming chapters promised so much in my head.

I haven't managed to write one word. Six weeks of time off has made my muse run for the hills at the very thought of trying to write something that doesn't sound stupid. I can't break past that first sentence.

So, once again procrastinating, I started surfing the web. I literally stumbled upon this quote and it fairly screamed at me. I need to JUST WRITE. If the first sentence sounds stupid, who cares? I'll be going back to edit anyway, I can fix that later.

At one point in time during NaNo I got stuck on a transition paragraph. Nothing I wrote worked. So, I 'skipped' it. Literally. I wrote this in its place:

Insert transition paragraph here because I have no clue what to write and I just want to get past this block. The best way to do that is to pretend I’ve written it and come back later with a more powerful statement then what I have in my head that sounds like fluff and filler and basic crap.

It got me through the block, I wrote almost 3000 words that day, and I went back and fixed it during editing this past month.

So, today I'm going to sit down. I'm going to write the first sentence of the rest of the book, no matter how stupid it sounds.

Write through the block. Allow a stupid sentence. You're going to edit half of them away, anyway!


Jean said...

I think it is cause we put some much importance on the first sentence, first paragraph in order to hook our readers.

I know I have the same problem a lot of times...just trying to find the right line to start a story. are right. We are going to change it more than likely so we might as well put down a less than perfect line and get it over with.

Nice post...and I like the quote.


Cheryl said...

Gee, that paragraph looks familiar. LOL! As I already mentioned to you when I first saw that paragraph of yours, it was great that you didn't let the block stop you from moving ahead with your story.

I wish I could do that. "A Shepherd's Journey" has moved no further than when I left it after NaNo. Maybe it's time for me to re-read it and use some of these 'stupid' words to get it moving again.

Thanks for the advice.


Sherry Heidelberger-Blackburn said...

I know just how you feel girl. I write in fits and starts and if the first sentence doesn't do it for me I can stare at a blank page for hours.
I am learning to find 'prompts' wherever I can. Once I write to someone elses prompt, it gets me going and I can write to my own.
Nice quote too.