Caution and the Back to Blogging Challenge (Day 1)

On Monday 5 November 2012 I wrote this in a file named ‘InflableInk-blog’:

“I get into a spiral around blogging. The less I do, the less I do.. It’s a bit like running in that respect. I’m also too cautious.”

I wrote a lot more in a similar vein. And then, guess what? I saved the file and left it fallow for eight months. So much for overcoming caution.

I often find myself paralysed when I’m writing. Every direction I take closes off all those others which suddenly seem so much richer in retrospect. So then I dawdle and worry. I could push on, of course, and make the best of my bad choice. Or I could back up. And, before I know it, I’ve arrived at yet another quandary. Backing up wastes time, but going on compounds my original error.

This is the moment I stop altogether, open a bottle of beer, and dream of the Platonic form of story. Story that’s unsullied by actual words.

In fact, for fiction, I have ways round this problem. I temporarily stun my inner critic and just write. Because I’m safely aware that no-one will read my shitty first draft, I can commit any number of writing sins in safety, and I can take several forks in the writing road at more or less the same time. I know I have the first, second and third rewrites in which to pull together the various twists of imagination and formal experiment.

But spontaneity is part of the point of a blog. I’m not supposed to agonise over every word. Which means, paradoxically, I have to get every word more or less right. So I’m back at my forking path, and I often don’t get beyond the first couple of sentences. Jeez.

Last night, I came across this post for the 10 posts in 10 days back to blogging challenge and I thought of that poor mothballed post from last autumn. The thing about caution is that it prevents you from making mistakes. But it also stomps out happy accidents and moments of inspiration. I’m too late to write along with Stephanie Booth and her squadron of bloggers, they’re finishing up today, but never mind.

So this is the first of ten daily posts. Let’s see how that goes. Kipper. See? Spontaneous!

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