That First Paragraph

Whenever I decide to sit down and write, especially if I’m starting something new, one particular thing likes to rear its ugly head, and slow down my own creative process. It’s something simple but insidious. It’s beginning to write that first paragraph. It always happens the same. I write down a few lines in my notebook (I like writing by hand), and I’ll look down, and think to myself, “this is awful,” and proceed to rip out the page, crumple it up, and start anew. I might do this process three or four times before I finally feel like I wrote something good enough to move on.  Even writing this paragraph, I stopped and started, until I got this much out. It’s frustrating, but sadly a part of my writing process.

It’s funny, and different with note-taking and editing. I can dive right into those without a second thought and get things accomplished. My best writing days fall into those categories. But starting a story, starting that first paragraph, it’s difficult. I know for some people, it’s intimidating to start filling words onto that blank piece of paper, or computer screen. I’ve heard that plenty of times before.  I know for me, it’s something different, although I’m pretty sure that it’s a rather common thing.

The way I look at it, bear with me, my analogy is strange, but the way I look at it, is that I want to be a March of the Toreadors kind of writer. Yes, March of the Toreadors, that famous piece of music from Carmen by Bizet. If you listen to that particular piece, it starts out with this great, bombastic sound. It has such a strong opening, and as a writer, a strong opening is a perfect way to start a story. So, I’m trying and trying to make this great, bombastic opening, and wind up frustrating myself in the process. Me, I’ve been trying to learn a different tactic.

Instead of being a March of the Toreadors kind of writer; I’m trying to be more of Pachelbel’s Canon in D Minor kind of writer, or a Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring kind of writer. With those two pieces of music, if you listen to them, they do not start with any kind of dramatic opening. True, with the type of compositions they are, they’re meant to sound like an ongoing stream of music, but why I mentioned them, is they have this consistency. They are beautiful from beginning to end, and have this nice, even tone. Something I think I should bring into my writing process. Keep it steady, consistent, and come to a nice ending point. I can leave the bombast until the editing phase.

Now, I just need to put this into practice. Un-learning bad habits is quite hard.

Also, just as a notice, I didn’t post a new Fiction Friday post last week. I was feeling under the weather. Here’s to hoping this week will be different.

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