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I’m in the initial stages today of drafting an article that I’ve promised for a volume. And I’m having no fun whatsoever.

The first day of drafting is always painful: I cobble together what few thoughts I have about the article’s structure into the beginnings of some kind of outline; I attempt to flesh out the outline where I can; I stare at the enormous gaps — particularly the big white space at the end of what I’ve got, where I just run out of steam and can’t figure out what comes next.

I check email. I read blogs.

I look back at the outline, depressed to find that nothing has changed since I turned away from it ten minutes ago. I force myself to produce another bullet point. Then delete it. Then put it back, as I’m not sure what else to put in its place.

I check various stats. See if there’s new email. Get another diet Coke.

The first day is always like this — I spend less time working than stalling, trying to avoid having to bash my forehead into that brick wall one more time. The first day’s work is nearly always nonsense.

Sometimes the second day’s work is, too.

But often on the second day, and usually by the third, something breaks loose, and I actually begin to feel the shape of whatever it is I’m writing, producing actual sentences with real logical connections to one another, sensing that those logical connections are gradually building into something that will someday resemble an argument.

Usually. Unless it turns out that what I produced on the first day really was nonsense, and that I just don’t have enough to work with to propel me through.

I try to remind myself that that’s a pretty rare outcome. But I still keep hoping that beginning to draft something new will get easier, someday.


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