Thursday, March 28, 2013

I've Almost Started!

Like many people, I am a big fan of Calvin and Hobbes. While I have always appreciated Bill Watterson's take on childhood as presented in this beloved comic, there are certain moments where the comic presents some surprisingly deep insights into human behavior and psychology. This particular comic has always been one of my favorites, because it puts into words one of my own classic weaknesses.

I am a first-born, and like many first-borns, I believe that there is a right way and a wrong way to do something. I am definitely not one of those people who wants to figure it out as I go. When I get a new game, the first thing I do is sit down and read the rulebook from start to finish, then jump online and read some strategy tips as well. When I set out to do a new task, I spend quite a bit of time online, reading and watching videos on the best way to perform that particular task. I always want to know what the experts say, how the best of the best does something, and how to maximize my effectiveness in as little time as possible. It probably also explains why I am such an impatient driver.

Now this isn't all bad. But I've noticed, especially when it comes to writing, that I have a tremendous amount of inertia when it comes to starting something new. I spend all this time thinking, planning, playing with ideas, researching, and even sketching out maps or character archetypes or whatever else suits my fancy. I expend a lot of time and energy doing this, when what I should be doing is actually writing. Not world-building. Not outlining. Not researching. Just writing, and then writing some more.

But somewhere along the way, I've become convinced it's got to be right the first time. I don't want to explore, don't want to figure out my own way, don't want to try out different things. I want a final draft on my first try. And because of it, I end up paralyzed. I end up doing all sorts of things, but never actually starting. And like Calvin, when it comes to my writing projects, I find myself saying, "I've almost started!"

Well today I started. I sat down with my writing app, Bluetooth keyboard, and stylus, and began penning the short story that's been floating around in my head for weeks. It's way overdue. And you know what? It's not perfect. It's going to need work. But today I overcame this weakness. I started.

What about you? Do you struggle with starting? Or are your best intentions overcome by other challenges instead? I'd love to hear about it. Thanks for reading.


  1. With regard to the content of this post, I am very much like you. Also a first-born, I find myself forever in the planning stages of things and like my work to be right the first time. This happens a lot with my Standard Pauper deck designs, and results in me often net-decking instead of following through with my original plans (my Four Color Allies and Kuldotha Red decks being the only successful exceptions).

    Anyway...I'd like to make a request for a future blog post here on Writer Adept. Like you, I dream of one day being a fantasy writer, but there is a massive deficiency on my part that I must remedy before I "almost" start. That is, much like one has to listen to music in order to make music, I have not read nearly enough fantasy to consider myself worthy of composing anything in that genre.

    I read the Chronicles of Narnia when I was kid and got through most of the Redwall books. I read The Hobbit when I was young and re-read it in anticipation of the motion picture. I read A Game of Thrones and half of A Clash of Kings (because after another surprising character death I threw the book aside and decided to start the whole series again with a different perspective). You read that right: I haven't even read the full Lord of the Rings trilogy yet!

    Now I'll get to that task starting very soon, but here's my request for your blog post now that I've been long-winded enough: What's an aspiring fantasy writer, or even just an aspiring fantasy fan, to read? What series do you most recommend? What authors produce the best material? Are there any series or authors or stand-alone novels that have influenced you the greatest or just simply entertained your imagination the best? Are there any short stories you'd consider essential, or periodicals that publish such stories one should subscribe to? You've so far on this blog expressed your admiration for Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time saga. I wonder what else there is that you'd recommend.

    There are several websites which try to answer these questions (and the requested blog post might include some of them) but I'd place a higher value on your opinion. Thanks for considering the request and good luck on getting that story written!

    1. Great questions! I will definitely address these soon in an upcoming blog post. Thanks for the suggestion.