I heard those words of wisdom on my first day working as a Teamster, in the summer between high school and college. Faced with what looked like an impossible job, Ramon Cancio, my older, more-experienced colleague, said to his young, inexperienced rookie helper … “Well, son, let’s get going. It don’t get done just standin’ there lookin’ at it.”
I still remember those homespun words of wisdom. Especially when I sit down in front of a computer with an idea for a new novel. Both computer screen and my brain are blank. It looks like an impossible job. But then I hear Ray’s voice …
To paraphrase a famous saying: “The journey to writing an 85,000 word novel begins with that first paragraph.” Hey …that sounds good. I can do that. I set myself a schedule. I’ll start writing everyday at 9 a.m. Religiously.
Day 1: Up at seven. Eat breakfast. Read the paper and have coffee. I pull up the chair in front of the computer. I’m set. But I just sit there staring at my keyboard and a blank screen. After a few minutes without inspiration, my mind starts to wander. What day is this? Did I pay all the bills? Deciding I have, I again look at my screen. It’s as blank as it was when I first started. Now it’s almost ten. Wondering if I have any email that requires immediate attention, I go to my inbox. I’m toast until noon. Then my sister calls updating me on mom’s health.
Day 2: A lot like Day 1.
Day 3: Ditto
Two hundred and twelve days later, I have exactly 30,335 words written. At this rate, my novel won’t be completed for at least another year.
I reflect on my schedule (or lack thereof) and realize I let myself become a cat chasing a toy mouse on a string held by the master of my fate. But then I realize the master of my fate is ME.
I make myself a more realistic schedule.
On Christmas Day I finish my third novel, The Custer Papers. Between August 1st and December 25th (147 days), I wrote 50,700 words.
It don’t get done just standin’ (or sittin’) there lookin’ at it.
As soon as my third novel is out, you’ll be the first to know if you click “Follow” in the sidebar menu of this page. Not only will I be grateful, I’ll even send you the first chapter of my novel free. (Already a follower? You can request a sample of The Custer Papers via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below.)