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My brain often feels like it is going a hundred miles an hour, a whirling dervish of random thoughts, ideas, and doubts.

The ideas are nothing to fear. I have a notebook to write them in so I can go back to them later. They are kept safe for another story or to slip into The Novel or Screenplay at some point, either during the current draft or a later rewrite.

The thoughts I just let run. They are usually mere entertainment, stuff my brain does to keep itself busy or to distract me from something I should be working on. Those I just let play out. Sometimes something comes out of them, but usually not, as the topics run the gamut from making a still, to Napoleon’s use of cannon at one battle or another, or trying to figure out why cars drive on the right in most of the world and on the left in Britain and its former colonies. My wife learned early in our relationship to not ask me what I was thinking.

The doubts, though. The doubts are killers. They come in ones and twos on good days and are easily defeated, sent running, yipping with their tails tucked. A simple ‘psssh’ dispatches them.

On the bad days, they hunt in packs, loping beside me until they tire, then dropping away to be replaced by one of their fellows.

They are relentless.

Their voices are tiny but persistent. “You suck,” they say. “You can’t even string a complete sentence together. Why do you bother?” I can hear them whispering to me. “No one will ever read this, or want to read it.”

The most vile and pernicious are more subtle in their attacks. They bring in their ally, Procrastination. They get him to tell me things I want to hear. “You can come back to this later. It can wait. Did you know there’s a Kurosawa marathon on TV?”

Neither fire, nor the sword, nor strong drink can drive them away. I have found only one certain remedy for them, only a single action that is a guarantee to defeat them, one simple weapon they can’t stand against.

When I hold a pen in my hand and put it to paper, they disappear, falling behind in their pursuit. Occasionally I can hear their yips and yaps, but the story takes hold and eventually I can no longer hear them at all.

To be writers, we must write. Wanting to write, reading about writing, and most certainly, talking about writing doesn’t make you a writer. Writing does. Sit down in your chair, lay on the floor, curl up in a hammock, do whatever it takes to sit down and write.

~James

PS – I crossed the 600 page mark today in The Novel. I still haven’t found my ending. I’m going to think on this over the weekend. Maybe I’ll get back to you on Monday with what I’ve figured out. Assuming I’ve figured something out. Knowing where you (think you) want to go and getting there are turning out to be two separate, entirely different things. But that’s a horse of another color.

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