I was full of enthusiasm when I began the 500-word challenge on January 1. The first few days, words flowed from my head onto the keyboard. I thought anyone could write 500 unedited words in thirty minutes or less.
Yesterday, I didn’t feel like writing. In fact, three of the last four days, I’ve struggled to make the words come. I tried to work on a piece of fiction. The idea is there, but I’m afraid the story won’t be good enough.
A few days ago, I wrote a post about my disappearing cat, Cruz. I saw him again—four sightings in a week. He’s been lurking near our deck. In the mornings, near daybreak, we can hear his distinctive “meow.” He acts like he wants to come close, but when we call his name he runs away.
Can we learn something about writing from a cat?
Cruz was always a bit scared. He didn’t like to be around many people—only John and me. On occasion, he would make an appearance if my brother stopped by, but would hide whenever anyone else came to the house.
Now, he’s lived on his own for almost four weeks and can’t—or won’t—make the decision to come to us.
As writers, we are often like the cat. We have the desire to write, but sometimes we are afraid. We’re fearful of making that next step. We come close, then back away. We only share our work with a few people. We stop writing. We lurk behind the scenes in obscurity.
Why are we afraid? Insecurity? Rejection? Self-doubt? We can overcome our fears by taking a clue from Nike: “Just do it!”
Write. Don’t worry about editing. Author Terri Blackstock shares this advice to writers, “Don’t get it right, get it written.” Edits come later.
Be bold. Don’t hide in the shadows. Put your work out there for the world to see. If you blog, then blog. You may not always post the most polished writing, but consider Ray Bradbury’s words. “Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you’re doomed.”
Silence your inner critic. This is often the hardest. Sylvia Plath says, “Everything in life is writable if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
Set aside a specific time to write. Three of the four sightings I’ve had of Cruz have been in the early morning. When I get up early to write, my mind is fresher. I’m more inspired. For you, another time might be best.
Yes, I learned something about writing from a cat. Don’t be afraid. Share my work with others. Don’t lurk in the shadows. Get up early.
Will you be like my cat—afraid to take the next step? Or will you move forward and write?