Fear of the first word

This may not be related to the post but it was just too cool to pass up.

I still don’t know what it is that makes it so hard to put that first word on the page.

One of the best teachers I ever had was my college creative writing professor, a man by the name of James Yaffe. He was an excellent writer himself, putting a lie to the oft-repeated phrase, “Those who can’t do, teach.” James Yaffe could ‘do’ far better than most, but as many artists will tell you, it takes a hell of a lot more than just being ‘good’ at what you do to create a ripple in this ocean-sized pond.

Anyway, I was saying about that first word. Well, it kind of goes without saying that (to kind of re-phrase what it says in a much more well-known book than I will ever write) he who writes the first word has a better shot at reaching the last one. In other words, you have to start before you can finish. And one thing Yaffe drilled into us more than 35 years ago in that Colorado classroom was that the only way to become a better writer was to write, and that if you waited for the muse to pay a visit before you felt you could begin to create then you would spend most of your time waiting for that lightning strike visit while all the actual writers would be busy creating. Because it’s ridiculous to think that the first word you put on the page – or the first sentence or paragraph – is eternal and shalt never be changed. The primary purpose of unleashing that first word is to get the gears cranking and sputtering. The magic of the first word is that it is the oil that lubricates your creativity.

And once your creativity gets good and lubricated, then good things can start to happen.

Sounds obscene, I know.

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Writer and musician.

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