It’s often said that the blank page can be intimidating, overwhelming, unkind, etc. And then there is the writerly belief that at some point, the work finds its stride, its shape, and the agony of creation gives way to a sort of euphoria. Afterward, minutes or hours or days later, there is the ending to contend with, whereupon the last line will either announce itself or be hard-won or will come as the result of deadlines (self-imposed or otherwise) or fierce edits or suggestions, etc. My relationship with my ‘process’ used to be a known thing to me–how I started, how I continued, and how I put it to bed. These days, I feel completely at a loss, almost as though I’m writing as somebody else, but was not otherwise given somebody else’s elseness. I’m bored, filled with doubt, and mostly hating every word I get down–and more than that, I feel not in possession of my regular faculties, which hitherto have done a decent job alleviating the boredom, quelling the doubts, and mellowing the hatred. It’s not as though I’ve never felt detached or lost before, but somehow this feels different. I’m quite sure that it has to do with the fact that I finished something some months ago which had previously given a lot of shape and focus to my efforts, over a pretty broad expanse of time. And while I’m a good multi-tasker in life, I’m a monogamist when it comes to writing. This is probably a grave liability. It’s something I’d like to change.
I’m aware that this rather tumultuous lull that I’m finding myself in is probably a good, “necessary” thing in its own rite. And before this entry gets even more me me me there are some questions that I’d like to ask all of you, which is the real reason I’m posting. When you begin something new, how do you do it? (And I’m gearing this more toward fiction writers, I realize.) Do you have a full sense of where you’d like to end up? Are you certain of anything–an image, a phrase, a character–and do you build the rest around it/them? Do you have your first line before you sit down, or do you think and stare until one comes to you? Do you say to yourself, “I’m going to write a such-and-such kind of story”? I never cared too much about how other people wrote–unless they were famous, no offense–until I started feeling like I had no idea how I wrote. I’m looking for general habits and patterns that I can pit against my own adriftness.