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Archive for August 15th, 2008

When all else fails, just write. This is something I had to learn when I first started writing professionally. I used to think that if it wasn’t perfect on the first draft…I don’t know…that they would see what a FRAUD I was! I have since learned that it’s only a first draft.  It’s not meant to be perfect. You just need to give them something to react to.                                                       LivelyExchange: “Waiting for It”

I wrote that a couple of months ago. The context was what to do while you are waiting for the inspiration to strike on a writing project.

When I wrote it, I was seeing an indelible mental image, almost 20 years old.  I was at my first job out of school, a production house. A young lady (Lauren?) was starting her first day as a copywriter. I was an assistant video editor whose job description was heavy on the “other duties as proscribed by supervisor” so, on this particular day, I was moving her furniture and helping her get settled. Lauren seemed nervous for her first day, almost too nervous, and I tried to chat her up a little to calm her down.

As I was finishing up, the copy director walked in and dropped off a file…her first assignment. I gave her a thumbs-up, a wink, and headed out. I had heard that these writer-types liked to be “left alone” to “think” or something.

An hour later, I walked past Lauren’s office and it seemed quiet. I guess I was expecting to hear typing or something, but did not. So I popped in to say hello.

I found Lauren staring vacantly at her monitor, her face a couple of degrees shy of “ashen.”  She began to speak, though not necessarily to me. “I’m stuck,” she muttered. “Completely stuck. Just…stuck.” I looked at her monitor: a lonely, blinking yellow cursor in a sea of blackness. (Why? Because I am old.)

I was nowhere near becoming a writer at that time, but I knew the people I worked for. So I told her, “Don’t let them come in here and see that monitor. Start writing. Anything. Fill up that space. Hell, maybe something will come to you while you’re doing it!”

So, this was Lauren’s first day, which I am sure she remembers better than I do. First day, first assignment, first cosmic super freakout.

In this business the worst pressure is the pressure you place on yourself.  And that empty screen (which is white now, smartass) can be pretty intimidating. Fortunately, the best bit of advice is also the simplest…just start writing.

Hey, it worked for me. Lauren, however, ended up in sales.

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