This is probably no revelation to me or anyone else, but writing is a daunting task. Starting is pretty easy. Most people have a “brilliant” idea every once in a while. The brilliance can come in a dream, on a barstool, a random comment that we expand upon. So, we jot down an idea, maybe even write a few pages. Then the drought/self-doubt comes in. Or life gets in the way. The computer crashed and all of the pens and pencils in the civilized world have been confiscated. Finishing anything can be painful unless you really discipline yourself. My personal story is that I had a “brilliant” idea for a screenplay. I started with an initial burst out of the blocks. I outlined all of the ideas I had about this masterpiece, but I didn’t edit myself. I wrote down many of the elements of the screenplay in the first few days based on my personal experiences and scenes I thought could add to the screenplay. “We’ll edit later, let’s just get the ideas out.” One of my practices before I write anything is to write the date at the top of that day’s work. A few weeks went by and I decided I should probably do some writing. And when I opened up the work I had completed, the date at the top of the sheet told me it had not been a “few weeks” since I had last worked on the screenplay, but months.
Enter insomnia. If I go to bed around midnight, I generally wake up around four or five in the morning. So, I reasoned with myself, “why not write then? The house is quiet. Not a soul will call you and any emails can be dealt with during normal “business” hours. Because of my very flexible (and light) work schedule this seemed like a perfectly plausible plan to finish the screenplay. I’d finished other long works before. My mind started cheating logic at this point. I started rereading yesterday’s comics. I would go online and research some terribly arcane subject that wouldn’t make any appreciable difference in my life. Or “Oh, the Asian edition of the Wall Street Journal just appeared in my inbox. Hey, let’s find out what’s going on in Singapore.” Needless to say, none of those activities or the other stalling tactics I used produced any writing or helped me finish the screenplay.
Then one night an intruder broke into my house. This wasn’t the first time that this thug visited me. No need to call the police; he is a feared and respected man. Since he’s been such a regular at my place we are on a first name basis. We’ll call him Pablo. “So how is the brilliant screenplay coming along, my friend?” queries Pablo. “Fine. I’m not trying to rush it, you know. I’m not a machine, just a creative person trying to finish something” I respond. Pablo is allowed to take liberties in my home. He lays his hands on the keyboard and scrolls to the top. He smiles. He looks at the dates that I actually worked on the screenplay. He scrolls to the bottom and sees the last date of writing. Pablo likes to smile although sometimes I think on his insides he’s laughing at me.
“You’re still waiting for her, aren’t you?”
“Who?” Even before that simple question leaves my lips, I know that was a stupid question.
Pablo smiles again. No, it’s not really a smile; it’s a smirk.
“OK, you know you have nothing of material value that I want from you, right my friend?”
“Yeah, I know, Senor Pablo.”
“This time I will leave a little gift with you if that’s OK.”
“Pablo, I would appreciate any gift that you would bestow upon me.”
“Well, it’s nothing new, but here it goes, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.”
“Pablo, haven’t I heard you say this before?”
“My friend, I told you it was nothing new. Now, when you get some high-end furnishings I may return to see what I can borrow.”
“Thanks once again. Is that it, Pablo?”
“No, my friend. Sit your ass down and write.”
My “final” mantra about writing (or almost anything “creative” or otherwise) that I offer is start and FINISH.