How to Start Writing

Robin Revisited, 2:54 PM Sunday

For Christmas 1986, my sister visited us in Oklahoma and gave me an audio cassette of Robin Williams: Live at the Met. I listened to the tape so much I memorized it, and even to this day still parrot some of Williams’ lines.

Today, my son and I watched the video. I kept glancing at the TV and back to my son, hoping he would laugh. He did. Maybe not as hard as I did when I was his age, but times are different.

“Oh wow, I can already tell this is from the nineteen-sixties.” He’s twelve. He still refers to my childhood as “back in the nineteen hundreds.”

“Eighties,” I said.

He said, “Robin Williams? Isn’t he that guy in all those movies?”

I chuckled.

It was the first time I have watched anything with Robin Williams in it since his suicide three years ago.

A YouTube Trim, 4:49 PM

I cut my hair. I usually cut my own. A couple of years ago I watched a couple of videos (the school of YouTube) and understood the basic idea well enough I felt comfortable enough to risk needing to shave my head. So, today I went from this…to this…

Kaizen Writing, 9:29 PM

I want to start writing sometime today, but what’s happening is what usually happens. I procrastinate. During the day, I said that I wouldn’t write because there were too many interruptions. Maybe I’ll start when things calm down this evening. Well, it’s now this evening and it doesn’t feel like The Right Time to Write. Now feels like TV Watching Time with My Wife. Maybe later, once everyone has gone to bed, will be The Write Time. But, then, I know I will be tired and my thoughts will get muddy. Maybe I can start Monday, when it will be just me in the house—and I’ll also be tempted to do chores.

I know how ridiculous this sounds. How excuse-laden it is.

I haven’t written in months. Part of me thinks that it will take a while to get back into the groove, and another part of me knows that I am already falling into old habits.

So, I think I will try Kaizen.

This is a Japanese method that I am learning from a book called One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way by Robert Maurer, Ph.D. It says that the best—maybe the only way—to build habits is to start out ridiculously simple then progress with glacial speed. For example, if a person wanted to stop drinking coffee, they might take one less sip from each cup they drank. Or maybe even one less sip per day. Eventually, this would phase out the bad habit without the fight-or-flight response kicking in and making him or her binge at Starbucks. Habits are built the same way. If I wanted to be able to do 100 push-ups, I would start with one today.

Maybe that would work with writing.

My snarky Critical Brain says, “If you were a real writer, you wouldn’t need artificial goads to write.”

Eh, I don’t know about that, but I know what is truly wrong. The problem is stage fright, or more accurately “page fright.” Like so many hopeful writers, I am afraid of the blank page. Once I get started, however, get some footprints in the snow, get that momentum turning, I don’t want to stop.

What should I do? Start with one word? Or, consider this blog a good first step?

Would the latter help when the goal is to write fiction? This blog is stream-of-consciousness nonfiction.

I guess I’ll try some of my old amping up routines, which today will probably be watching a Dean Wesley Smith video or two or.… Maybe read some Chuck Palahniuk advice to writers. Work up to some wordplay exercises for titles or perhaps a list of opening lines.

Why does that sound so much like procrastination?

WORD COUNT TOTALS–

Blog: 658
Fiction: 0

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