Hi Jenna! I know you’re very busy, but I have a question. I’ve finally begun the actual writing of the first draft of my thesis, but I’m finding it tough to get motivated. I am constantly thinking about my project, but yet I find that once I sit down to write about it, everything goes out the window. Do you ever experience this?? If you do, what do you do to get past it??
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Hi, there: funny you should ask! That’s pretty much a description of my daily life right now. I am carrying this book around in my head, and I’m thinking about it, and the other night at the gym I even had such a burst of ambition about it (thinking about research) that I almost flipped my elliptical!….Yet I too am having a terrible time sitting down to write.
I think that means there’s a missed connection somewhere between our personal psychology and our writing. I suspect I know what the reasons are for me that are getting in my way of committing words to paper (or laptop screen). Maybe you know what yours are too! This is meant to be reassuring; the work is there; we, the instruments, are just getting in the way of our own work.
Which is rather unfortunate, considering that we’re the only instruments who can get this particular vision down on paper, right? So here’s what I suggest: Make yourself sit in the writing chair, for x amount of minutes a day. Start with an hour (or, if that seems too threatening, 25 minutes). Then maybe change the medium! If you’re used to writing on a laptop, write on paper. If you’re used to writing on paper, write on the laptop. I do find that when I’m writing by hand–my original, beloved way to write, all the way from childhood–there are whole scenes that knit themselves together out of one scrap of a sentence. So again, the work is there. We just have to figure out a way to get out of our own way.
My agent suggested something else: buy a box (she knows I like to shop, so any suggestion with “buy” in it will get my attention) and each day, before you write, write your fears and obstacles about whatever it is your’e writing about on slips of paper. Put them in the box. Close the box. Then set yourself a daily word count and hit it. I’m going to try this. You?