Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Just Do It

This happens to all of us: sometimes, we just don't have an idea. Sometimes the words just aren't coming and there's no trick in the world that will allow us to get around that and squeak them onto our Word documents. Sometimes we just need to take a break and let ourselves relax before diving back in or starting a new project.

But then, sometimes we can't afford that break. Sometimes, we need those words RIGHT NOW.

As a writing student, someone who has to continually turn in my work for a grade (and believe me, I am incredibly hard on myself when it comes to grades), there have been quite a few occasions where I am staring at the computer screen at midnight the day before a story is due. And it's not because I've put it off till the last minute - it's because I just don't have an idea. I just don't know what to write.

And you know what? The only thing to do is just do it. Just write. Something. Anything. The results are going to vary - I've handed in one mediocre story because of this, but I've also handed in one pretty awesome story. It happens. And when you're being workshopped that week, you have to hand in something, because the results would be disastrous otherwise.

I had to do this again just last night. I wasn't excited about a prompt, but the story is due tomorrow and I'll be in class until 8pm tonight. So I just wrote it. I'm not sure it's quite what I was supposed to do, and I will probably send it to my writer friend and fellow Ithacan Sarah and complain about how awful it is and spend a long time tonight staring at it trying to tweak it. But you know what? I wrote it. There are some good points to it. And I'll have something to hand in in class tomorrow.

The thing about writing, especially writing for a grade, is that it can always be better. There is always something you could have changed or done differently to make the story shine just a little bit brighter. And it can always be fixed. With most of the projects that carry a lot of weight, grade-wise, I am required to revise them.

But you can't revise something if you didn't write anything in the first place.

So if there's a time when you have a deadline looming large and nothing to write, just sit down, grab the first idea that comes along, and write.

*I apologize if this makes no sense whatsoever. First thing this morning, I handed in some very important paperwork and I am now so nervous/excited/terrified that I feel a bit ill. Is it going to be like this until October? Gah.

1 comment:

  1. I know exactly what you are talking about. :) When I was in university I took a class in oral narrative and for my final assignment, I chose to write the story that I would tell the class as a large chunk of my overall grade.

    I know absolutely nothing about short stories, but I ended up putting butt in chair, wrote a decent tale and ended up with an A as my final grade for the year.

    A committment to getting things done is something that is very important if you want to write. We don't have people glancing over our shoulders the way that some people do so we need to be self motivated.

    I must say, though, I find it harder to buckle down and do revisions. I never know whether I'm doing the right thing and it makes me nervous.