Write Two Words.

I was writing at the library yesterday afternoon. The session started off slowly, as it often does. I had just finished a paragraph on my piece, and wasn’t sure what the next paragraph would bring. Believe it or not, I knew the first two words of said paragraph, but i wasn’t sure where to take the rest of the opening sentence, and therefore the rest of the paragraph.

I played with ideas in my head for while. I brainstormed. I relaxed and looked around the (unusually quiet) library. All the while I kept a mental note of those first two words I knew I was going to open the next paragraph with. My thought process at this time was something like,

“Okay, I’ll start with those two words, and then what? Those two words followed by a list? Could those two words be a sentence, or at least an understood fragment? All right, sit back and take a breath for a few minutes. You’ve got the two words for now at least.”

Then I realized, I did not have those first two words I’ve been going on and on about. I knew them, but I had yet to type them on the screen of my laptop. They had just been sitting there in some kind of antechamber of my imagination, waiting for me to put them to some kind of use, or to dismiss them. At that point it struck me: I could either sit there and not do any writing at all until I knew what the next paragraph was doing, or I could literally put down the two words I knew I would use, and honestly say I had written something. After all, those two words were going to be on the screen at some point, why not now?

So I did. Just those two words. Nothing magic happened, but once i did type those two words, I was no longer waiting to write, i was actually doing so. That little bit of further progress mattered. It was still a few moments before I knew what came next, but no I had something put down in words that I didn’t have before, and you know what? Those following few minutes of pondering didn’t feel as strained as the pondering and thinking I did before I wrote the two words.

Before I left the library, I had written a few more paragraphs. It was such an enlightening and satisfying moment, I tweeted about it.

As a writer, you won’t always know what’s next, and that’s fine. Yet if you know even a fraction of what comes next for now, write it down. Write one sentence, or write two words, if you know they’re next. The door for the next few words, sentences or paragraphs may open more quickly than it otherwise might have. Even if it doesn’t, two more words on the page or screen is better than zero while you try to determine the entire next page in your head. Two words put down works. It’s progress. It’s writing.

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