Thursday, May 31, 2018

Start Small

There's a story (I think its from Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenence), about a student getting a writing assignment to write about his city. He starts thinking and thinking about the topic and after 20 minutes doesn't know what to write about. His instructor sees that he is stuck and gives him some advice: start by describing a specific brick of this building. From there the student starts typing away, describing the texture, look and feel of that brick. Then he moves on to the other bricks and how that brick fits in with the others and then the school and so on and on the words and ideas flow until he completes his essay.

I came back to this story for a couple reasons. Well for one, I was thinking about what I would write myself today. There is a world of things to write about so there is no excuse that there are no good ideas left. And we also know that there is no such thing as writers block. So I decided I would narrow my focus to something small. And when I started that process I realized that I heard a story like this before.

So that's what I wanted to share today. In order to get started, you have to get started. It helps if you get out of the abstract and down the specific. And, oh I just remembered the other lesson from that story, it was that the reason we are stuck when writing is that we are trying to do 2 things at once. We are trying to get our thoughts out AND organize them at the same time. That's too hard. Instead its better to get the ideas out first and then later organize them. That might be a brainstorm or a shitty first draft. Whatever you want to call it, you need to start before you can make it better.