Sputtering starts

You know how dogs sometimes circle their beds before they lie down to sleep? Or cats hunch down in the grass, waiting, waiting, waiting for the right moment to pounce on the mouse?

That’s me when it comes to starting a piece of writing. I circle, stare, wait and circle again. I delay, I read over my notes, I get up, I sit down. I write a sentence and then back away and circle some more, then try again. It’s not just my own creative writing; I even do this before settling in to write a story for the newspaper I freelance for.

The pre-writing circling kind of bugs me…it takes time, after all, and when there are deadlines, time is important. I suppose the circling is a way for my brain to start organizing the pieces that will make up the whole of an article or essay. But until I actually get going on a piece of writing, it’s like a stutter. I keep starting, but can’t get the words out.

Some people are gifted with the ability to just sit down and crank things out. I am not one of those people. At least not until I’ve gotten started and written a few sentences or paragraphs. Often, the time circling and getting started will take twice as long as the writing of the rest of the piece. Weird.


2 thoughts on “Sputtering starts

  1. Strong coffee and loud trance music with a driving, optomistic beat. That’s what works for me. But I understand what you mean, since I have to get into the right mood to write. No problem at home, without a deadline, but at work when I have to write I have to force myself to get into the mood. It always seems to work out OK, though. A kind of self-hypnosis helps, the sort of ritual you describe, where I even look forward to the writing and tell myself how much fun it will be when I am working on it and how good it will be when it’s done. Even going to get the cup of coffee (or making it at home) is part of the ritual. One nice thing about the newspaper is I know my writing isn’t going into the void. I know someone will read it, even if only an editor. A letter, I’m pretty sure will be read by somone I send it to. Other writing, I’m not so sure.

  2. Yes, I suppose it does have something to do with getting into the right writing mood….or maybe concentration level. I definitely have to settle into being that focused, which makes me realize how scattered I must be the rest of the time. And you’re right, it’s nice to have an audience, not a “void,” though that can mean added pressure, too. Thanks for sharing your method!

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