Saturday, 31 July 2010

Getting over the Hump (not sex or rejection!)

During term time I see this phenomenon repeated lots of times a week. A bunch of writers come into class, most of them saying they haven't been able to get much written over the past week. I set them an exercise. They groan, complain, ask for something easier. I hit them over the head with my big stick until they quieten down (actually I've just made that bit up) and then they have precisely 7 minutes and 35 seconds to get on with some writing.

7 minutes and 36 seconds later I say it's time to stop writing. They all ignore me and carry on. So I say it a bit louder. Then I say (and you can see I have total control of my class): 'Oh, well, as you're writing so much, carry on for another minute or two.'

After another minute and 45 seconds, I ask them to stop again. Reluctantly, one by one, they put down their pens and class carries on.

It happens again and again. There's this hump - this thing about starting writing. Writing once you've got over the hump is easy, but getting enough energy to push yourself up and over is hard. Sometimes, writing seems such a hard task, it doesn't seem worth bothering, especially if you've only got fifteen minutes or so free.

Believe me - it's worth it. In class, it usually takes less than TWO MINUTES for everybody to be scribbling away having got over the hump. I am a superb procrastinator, but even I take only a couple of minutes to settle down to writing once I've actually started.

I promise in less than 3 minutes you'll be so into your writing you'll have forgotten all about the hump and how difficult it was to get started. Just do it! Start right now!


Vanessa said...

Oh, you are so right! I have this problem all the time; by the time I've got the kids to bed, cleaned up, cooked, eaten, cleared up again, I sit down to write and just seem unable to open that Word document! But if I force myself, I'm writing within minutes. Sometimes it's easier to start off in a notebook - not such a commitment!

Sarah Duncan said...

And isn't it amazing that when it's so hard to open that Word document, it's easy to open Twitter/Facebook/Solitaire... The notebook idea is a great one. I am always impressed by people who manage to write in the evenings after work/childcare etc - I know I haven't got the discipline and tenacity.