Nike was smart when they launched their campaign admonishing those of us who sit far too long on our ever-expanding rear ends to “Just do It.” But when you’re someone who is more inclined to first think, then talk about what you are thinking about — like writing — then think about writing before you actually write anything, clearly those words have no effect. None.
I haven’t “Done It” yet. In other words, I’m still getting warmed up to the idea of possibly thinking about wanting to write something. Not just anything, but the piece I am supposed to write.
The problem is twofold. On second thought, it’s got quite a few more folds than two. Tenfold might be more accurate. I have no excuse for this. It’s pathetic.
And so when I find myself in this particular situation, I review what I know. I mull over every detail and experience much like one might sort through an old recipe box, thinking about what is on each card instead of pulling one out, and actually cooking and serving it for dinner.
I could go back through the books I’ve used in the past whose authors have helped me sort out my thoughts. People like Zinsser and Lamott, or Goldberg or E.B. White, because they force me to think about what I’m not doing. But I’d have to have something, anything, to work with before I’m compelled to pick up one of those books again. Otherwise, it’s no different than reading travelogues and never traveling, or buying yet another cookbook when never intending to cook.
Somehow in my wandering today, I came across Vonnegut and his take on style. I’d not seen it before, and I read it through several times acknowledging his advice, but thinking more about his writing. I read parts of it aloud, as I often do when something is written just right, needing to hear the cadence of words as each works with another. Then I considered the advice.
One thing was missing.
Find a place to begin. And therein lies the rub.
Since it’s not a dark and stormy night, I’m taking myself out into the sun that has finally decided to grace us with its presence to sit and read something well-written, take a few notes, and find a place to begin while I’m distracted by green bugs in the vicinity.