Here’s what I know about writing. It’s a monster.

Every time I sit down at my computer or with my notebook, I enter a battle, a wrestling match against this beast called writing. My sentences are the ropes that I throw to tie this thing down, to lasso it under my control. But far too often I make strings, not ropes, of my sentences — weak strings that fray and snap at the slightest sign of tension. A weak string of words can’t contain a beast, only a strong, active, alive, yet simple rope can make progress in the fight.

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The monster’s best defense, I have found, is my indifference. When that white page stands there, about to swallow me up, and the cursor is blinking at me with malice, I lose the passion to battle. When my writing chair finally becomes comfortable and I’m ready to write, I begin to think of the car and how it’s leaking, the laundry and how I’m out of socks, and how my to-do list gets longer every day.

When 250 seems like such a big number and way too many words to write in one sitting, I imagine myself throwing a hefty rope around the neck of the beast and pulling it to the ground in victory. I imagine myself actually being happy with what I’ve done and not seeing how much left I have in the battle.

I imagine myself meeting my own expectations, not making a single mistake in grammar, character, imagery, voice, tone, or all the rest. I, in this dream, have conquered writing. I’ve taken the beast alive.

That’s when I can begin.

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