I recently came up with an idea for a new novel and I’ve been really wanting to write it. I’ve thought of a decent plot, some great characters, and a wonderful setting. Every time I start to write it though, my brain screams at me.
“Emily, you’re not doing this right.”
“Emily, this is a terrible intro. Does in medias res mean ANYTHING to you?”
But then, there’s the other part of my brain that says in soothing, confident tones:
“Emily, just put words on the page.”
“Part of writing is revision, you’ll come back to this.”
It’s like the devil and the angel sitting on your shoulder. A classic dilemma.
In reality, you have to tune out the one side. The part of your brain that tells you to fix it, to sit there with your blinking cursor, dwelling on how to make it better when you really have no idea how to do that needs to shut up. Ignore that part of your brain. Turn it off.
I’m not good at this. I am a known planner. I anticipate things happening. I’m classically two steps ahead of everyone else. Life’s punched me in the throat a zillion of times and I still insist on looking to the future.
That part of the brain that gets ahead of me, well, I need to flip the off switch on that, too. I have to be present. Focus on the draft at hand. Where am I in the story? If I’m scared of getting ahead of myself, I can always jot down a few notes. Hopefully those pages won’t run off and I’ll get there. Eventually. Eventually, the future always becomes the present. At least that is guaranteed.