Write (Now) Newsletter – April 2006


“The easiest thing to do on earth is not write.”

                                                 – William Goldman from Which Lie Did I Tell?

Dear Writers:

Last week a friend called. She was stuck. “I need to edit this story and I’m stalled,” she said. “I don’t know how.”

“When I don’t know what to do,” I told her. “I just get in there and start moving words around. Eventually something happens.”

I don’t know why this is true. In writing practice, you keep your hand moving until the timer goes off in order to stay one step ahead of the voices in your head. In editing, you just start moving stuff around – words, paragraphs, question marks, anything – until something happens. It usually does.

Writing is like pumping water from a hand pump. You have to prime it. At first you pump and pump and all you get is air. But you keep pumping and soon you hear a little gurgle. Next water will spurt out of the spigot in little bursts. Before you know it, the flow will be steady and sweet.

I have the most trouble with this priming part, this getting started part. I forget that writing is this way and I think that I am supposed to sit down and start and that everything will be easy, but it’s not. It’s always hard. And it’s especially difficult after I’ve had a day or two off. A week away and I’m convinced it’s impossible. It’s just like that.

So the next time you’re stuck, imagine yourself at the old water pump. Put your hand on the handle. Feel the cold, cast iron arm of it. Get a good grip and start moving your arm up and down. It won’t be long. Something is bound to happen. I promise.

Nita(Jack and Jill went up the hill. . .)Sweeney
©2006, Nita Sweeney

p.s. For information about Jamey Ax, Nita’s niece, please go to http://www.caringbridge.org and type: Jameyax (all one word).