Maybe you buy six hundred books on writing...

"The beginning always starts off easy. 'I want to write a book,' you say. So maybe you take a class or two. Maybe you buy a book on writing." -Laraine Herring

So I'm blogging about how to begin. What I tell my students is that you have to begin over and over again, sometimes more than once in each session, at a bare minimum once per day (even if only for fifteen minutes). Knowing how to begin is important. Nothing happens without beginning.

I don't think I can dictate for anyone else how to begin, though I can make suggestions. Laraine Herring suggests breathing, shaking (yes, shaking!), and writing -- each for five minutes. I like how five minutes of practice demystifies the process. Oh, five minutes, I think. I can do anything for five minutes. On day two of this practice, I found the breathing boring. (This fits with what my friend Glenda says about my not breathing.) The shaking? I almost hate to admit it, but it was fine. It was funI am all too aware that I'm not in touch with my body. I live in my head. The five minutes of writing? It turned into two journal pages, then an hour and a half on poetry, a million ideas, and now this blog entry.

The main thing wrong with saying "I want to write a book" is that it's too big. Recently a colleague told me that she and her father -- many years ago, before his unexpected death -- had planned to write a book together about their teaching. "You should write it," I said. "You can dedicate it to him." She shook her head sadly. "I'm not a writer," she said.

At the risk of sounding like the ghost-chef in Ratatouille, ANYONE CAN WRITE. Just don't set your goals so high. No, you can't write a book, not this morning.

Buying a new book about writing, by the way, is an excellent way to procrastinate on your writing.

This morning write a paragraph. Write a sentence. See if you can stay with it for five minutes.

And now, for me, breakfast.


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