Write. Edit. Submit.
For the last few days I have repeated this mantra under my breath like a child counting down the days to Christmas. I sit in the comfy leather chair in my dad’s study, twiddling a pen between my thumb and forefinger, eyes locked on the flickering wick of a scented candle.
The door is closed. My family is out of the house – parents to dinner, sister at the gym. Write. Edit. Submit. That is all I need to do. Instead, I look down to the phone on my desk and re-read the submission details of a short story competition. I want to make sure I know the rules for when I eventually, somehow, start to write.
Self-doubt is the worst part of starting a new piece of writing. The nerves like vertigo as you stare down at the paper, the laptop screen, and hold onto your idea as you stare into the abyss. It is a seed, still so small within your palm, and once you bulk up the courage to take the plunge you have no way of knowing if your idea will grow roots.
Write. Edit. Submit. I twist the lid of my pen again. The candle is cinnamon. Warm, spicy, and the only thing keeping me from getting up from the desk. The scent fills the small space around me, matching the heat on the back of my head as I lean forward with pen in hand. I want to write this story. I want to send it to this competition. Whether or not it does well, I just want to get the idea out of my mind and into the eyes of the judges. Just to say that I’ve done it.
I tap the tip on the page. Write. Edit. Submit. Perhaps that is not what I need to do. Perhaps I am thinking too literally. I need a new mantra – One that matches the sense of uncertainty and excitement within me. One that distances myself from the act of putting pen to paper. This is just the beginning. Hard, analytical thought can come later. Now, I just need to do what every writer does, in their own special way.
Create: Use words to bring something into the world, be it a story, poem, script or otherwise.
Maintain: Polish the plot, the characters, and the language, and let the piece grow within your care
Destroy: Whether it is for yourself or others, there is always a time for the work to be set free, and for you to move on to the next project.
Create. Maintain. Destroy.
I scratch the first word onto the page…
Do you have a positive affirmation that you use? How do you inspire yourself to write that first draft? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @ERHollands!