Hit the Page Running

My mantra when I finally sit down to work is

Hit the page running.

What I mean by that is to plunge in immediately.

Mo Collins as Sarah Rabinowitz on “Fear the Walking Dead”

First minute.

First second.

First millisecond.

Why do I do this?

Resistance.

I don’t want to give Resistance the slightest opening to worm its way into my brain and start me “thinking.”

No dawdling.

No cogitating.

No mulling over.

Start.

Get to work.

Get into the flow.

If I’m working on Draft #1 of a new project, I will pick up immediately where I left off yesterday. Without “thinking,” I’ll continue telling the story. If I left off yesterday with Uncle Pismo clutching a double-bladed axe in both hands as the leader of the zombies hurtles toward him across the work floor of the abandoned noodle factory, I’m gonna have Pismo sling that weapon first thing.

I wanna get into that fight as fast as I can.

Into the story.

Into the flow.

Remember, our enemy in writing our novel or screenplay is not plot or theme or characters.

Our enemy is Resistance.

If I’m working on Draft #11 of a project, the work is easier. I have pages already. I’ve got the characters, the story, the theme. Momentum is already there on the page.

Still I’ll plunge in, Minute One, without hesitation and without thought.

Pick up where I left off and keep going.

I might go slowly. I might be focusing intently on single words and single beats of punctuation. But I’m relentlessly pushing forward without letting Resistance, in any of its manifold manifestations, weasel its way in.

It goes without saying, I have turned off all external sources of distraction.

No phone.

No e-mail.

No Instagram.

No Facebook.

I am on an ice floe in Antarctica.

I’m circling alone at 70,000 feet.

I’m on the moon.

Barring a zombie apocalypse or a family emergency, I will not turn my attention to anything that’s not happening inside my own demented brain.

 

DO THE WORK

Steve shows you the predictable Resistance points that every writer hits in a work-in-progress and then shows you how to deal with each one of these sticking points. This book shows you how to keep going with your work.

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THE AUTHENTIC SWING

A short book about the writing of a first novel: for Steve, The Legend of Bagger Vance. Having failed with three earlier attempts at novels, here's how Steve finally succeeded.

The-Authentic-Swing

NOBODY WANTS TO READ YOUR SH*T

Steve shares his "lessons learned" from the trenches of the five different writing careers—advertising, screenwriting, fiction, nonfiction, and self-help. This is tradecraft. An MFA in Writing in 197 pages.

noboybookcover

TURNING PRO

Amateurs have amateur habits. Pros have pro habits. When we turn pro, we give up the comfortable life but we find our power. Steve answers the question, "How do we overcome Resistance?"

Turning-Pro

22 Comments

  1. Joe Jansen on December 11, 2019 at 6:17 am

    I’m thinking of that Irish blessing (often found crocheted and framed on the bathroom wall of friends with family names like Mooney or O’Brien or McNulty):

    “May you be in Heaven a full half-hour before the Devil knows you’re dead.”

    Thirty minutes isn’t a lot of time, though, and I don’t know why the Irish felt like they needed to cut it so close. I’d prefer to be through the Gate a solid hour, or even two, before it’s been discovered I’m on the run.

    • Brian Nelson on December 11, 2019 at 7:17 am

      Joe,
      Maybe the Irish don’t want to leave too much Guinness left behind…
      bsn

      • Shane Breslin on December 11, 2019 at 8:47 am

        As an Irishman who had his first pint of Guinness at 14 years and 11 pints (sanctioned by my dad, as I was the eldest son and Donegal had just won the All-Ireland football championship for the first time in 108 years of Gaelic football history…), perhaps I’m qualified to comment here…?

        Many of us call it (all alcohol, not just Guinness) “the demon drink”.

        All of us grew up learning that the Irish/Gaelic for whiskey is “uisce bheatha”. Literal translation: “water of life”.

        I think the most important thing to note is this:

        The Irish relationship with the strong stuff is known globally less for our relationship with the strong stuff than our seemingly innate storyteller skills. The tradition of the seanchai is a long and proud one here.

        [I remember drinking vodka with a Lithuanian, and he was 10x the drinker I could ever be…!]

        Thanks Joe, Brian and Steven for the opportunity to chip in here.

        Shane

        • Shane Breslin on December 11, 2019 at 9:18 am

          I’ll try not to laugh at my typo where I wrote “pints” instead of “months”…

          • bill on December 11, 2019 at 10:20 am

            I actually thought it was intentional and a nice “touch”, creative, humorous, you should have kept it a secret.



        • Joe on December 11, 2019 at 3:18 pm

          Shane… I clicked through and watched your Tallaght TEDx talk. Well done, mo chara.

          I like the “water of life” translation. And the meaning behind “seanchaí”: bearer of the old lore.

          Sláinte.

    • Joe on December 11, 2019 at 8:18 am

      “Hey Resistance… there’s one cold Irish stout left in the fridge. I’ll RACE you.”

  2. Mary Doyle on December 11, 2019 at 7:43 am

    As always, you gave me exactly what I needed to hear today – I thank you from inside the cavern of my own demented head!

  3. Robert vanderMark on December 11, 2019 at 8:05 am

    “Barring a zombie apocalypse or a family emergency, I will not turn my attention to anything that’s not happening inside my own demented brain.”

    Love it!

  4. David Tibbals on December 11, 2019 at 8:18 am

    Why its called work – not play or folly – excellent words for focus. Thank you!

  5. Drew McArton on December 11, 2019 at 9:45 am

    “Uncle Pismo”?! Still, I like the noodle factory. It is an attention to detail, succinctly expressed, that shows you think like a writer even while you’re sharing your life with us. A gift that remains always a privilege.

  6. Brian Nelson on December 11, 2019 at 10:04 am

    The tonic for 99% of my ills – action. Inertia is a powerful force. Action is the cure.
    bsn

  7. Jule Kucera on December 11, 2019 at 10:29 am

    I hit the ground like a zombie in an apocalypse.
    I don’t even try to remember what I’m supposed to do.
    After the walk to the library (gets the juices flowing), I pull off my backpack. I reach in for my composition book which has a checklist of what I’m supposed to do taped to the inside front cover. (Hey, if doctors in an ER use a checklist to remind themselves to wash their hands, who am I to be above a checklist?)
    #1: Pull materials from backpack: binder, laptop, tea, pens, phone.
    #2: Put phone on airplane mode, turn off WiFi on laptop.
    #3. Say a prayer of thanks.
    #4. Get writing prompt and write one page. (I stand up, walk to the magazine rack, pull a random magazine, flip to a random page, and point to a random sentence, which becomes my first sentence.)
    #5. Read what you wrote yesterday.
    #6. Say aloud, but quietly (it’s a library), “I give myself permission to suck.”
    #7. Start writing where you left off.

  8. Justin Patrick Moore on December 11, 2019 at 10:33 am

    “Don’t die in the waiting room of the future”-East German Punk saying / graffiti.

  9. Adam Abramowitz on December 11, 2019 at 10:47 am

    Damn. That was great

  10. Yvonne on December 11, 2019 at 2:15 pm

    Perfect–exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you!

  11. Carole Wolfe on December 11, 2019 at 3:51 pm

    I printed the last paragraph of this post and taped it over my desk! Excellent reminder of what I need to be doing – or not doing! Thank you for making this simple.

    • Jurgen Strack on December 12, 2019 at 6:05 am

      I taped ‘just write’ inside my head

  12. Pete Tittes on December 11, 2019 at 7:10 pm

    Steven, I sat down to write and checked your blog first. And it told me to start writing before anything else. So I will follow your advice for the rest of the year and see how it works for me. Thanks in advance.

  13. Michael McC. on December 12, 2019 at 6:51 pm

    Hear, hear. Agree 100% Steve. Thanks for the wisdom, as always.

  14. Mike on January 2, 2020 at 4:47 pm

    “I will not turn my attention to anything that’s not happening inside my own * brain.”

    * Fill in your personal adjective of disfunction.

    Don’t acknowledge, jump in.

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