“To choose life, means to give birth every day.” (Matthew Fox)
To give birth, to bring forth, to give breath and life…
Creative birthing, like birthing a child, is not easy or quick or pain-free.
Writing projects often require months, even years of gestation. We carry the idea in our minds, jot phrases in our journal, add note cards to our pile, and stuff paragraphs and sentences into our SOME DAY file.
Perhaps we’ve tried to give the work voice, but the words weren’t right, the sentences didn’t behave, or the story line was wrong or confused. Maybe we weren’t willing to labor hard enough and long enough, even though a spark of life was waiting to be nurtured. Perhaps we were overwhelmed by the enormity of what we hoped to accomplish.
“I can’t write this today,” you say to yourself. “I just can’t write it! But someday I will. Someday…”
If someone had told you how challenging it is to nurture a child to adulthood, had they told you the unvarnished truth, would you have had a child?
Writing is like that. If someone told you everything it takes to write a book — the challenge of characters and plot, the hours and days and years crafting your story alone, rewrites piled upon rewrites, the path to publication — would you have started your book?
But the gestation has begun: you have the ideas, ideas waiting for form and structure, ideas waiting for you to give them life, a story waiting to be told by you.
Like parenthood, we’re in for the long haul. Babies seem easy compared to teenage complexity. But we grew into that time; we learned on the road.
So start small, with easy steps: put your notes on the table, organize the notes in major piles like beginning, middle, and end, make a bare-bones outline of how you think the story will go. (Beware: organizing can become a distraction in itself, keeping us from the business of writing.)
Then put words on your paper: write an opening line, describe a setting, flesh out a character, write one scene, write a bit of dialogue.
Write new words consistently. Every bit matters. One hundred words a day is a 500 word essay or a short, short story each week. Five hundred words most days is a manuscript exceeding 150,000 words by year’s end.
Birthing is a process — day by day, word by word, sentence by sentence — and it’s those daily words that will become your story or book.
Show up. Do the work.
Until next Tuesday…