The Distraction of the Beginning

I love beginnings. Opening a new book, waking up to a new day (DISCLAIMER: this is not the same as “morning” for me–I’m a night owl!), welcoming a new year, and one of my very favorites things: getting a brand-new notebook with nothing but blank pages. Beginning new research, a new class, a new hobby. . .there are so many interesting and fun things out there to begin!

This is one of the reasons that I love writing. My favorite part is–wait for it–starting a new story. There are all these lovely stories in my head, begging to come out. And then I’ll read a news article, and I get lost in the “what-ifs.” What if Dennis Rodman is a secret agent. For Canada. And what if he’s stealing secrets between bad renditions of “Happy Birthday.” Suddenly, I have another a new story idea and I can’t wait to begin writing and researching and exploring (just kidding about the Rodman one, though). Oh, new story=new notebook! A double-win!

Finishing, on the other hand, is a little more challenging. It’s not that I don’t love finishing, too. That feeling of success and completion is lovely, it truly is. It’s also a lot of hard work, usually, and focus, patience, perseverance, and tenacity. Which doesn’t sound like nearly as much fun as uncapping a wonderful new pen (purple ink!) and flipping open that notebook (hard cover) to reveal all those crisp blank pages, pages just waiting for my lists and notes and sketches and stories.

Go ahead, ask me how many stories I’m working on. Don’t be shy! (Two novels and three short stories.) Now, ask me how many I’ve finished. (Um, one short story.) You see my issue, right? So, what’s a beginning-loving girl to do? What would happen if my favorite writers, or all writers, never finished their stories? (Shivers!)  It’s a new year, and therefore time to set some new goals. I think I’m going to add things like “begin writing agent pitch for novel,” which requires me to finish a chapter, and “begin to work with an agent,” which requires me to finish a manuscript. Those sound like lovely beginnings I can look forward to. (I just might be on to something.)

What’s your favorite thing to begin? Any unfinished projects hiding in your closet?

Wishing you all a lovely year of exciting beginnings and many successful finishes, too!



Author: Pamela A. Oberg

Pamela is a portfolio manager at an educational assessment company by day, writer by night. Founder of Writers on Words (a discussion and critique group), Pamela enjoys spinning tales of murder and mayhem, with an occasional foray into the world of the paranormal.

11 thoughts on “The Distraction of the Beginning”

  1. I think we should Zazzle or Café Press out a special line of Mysterista notebooks! Because new progect=new notebook to me too (and I actually shop for covers that relate to the book or series I have in mind). You’re smart to phrase those new goals as “Begin to look for…,” instead of “Don’t spend time on…” because apparently the mind discounts everything after a negative (like “don’t start a new project”=”start a new project” or “don’t eat popcorn for breakfast”= “eat popcorn for breakfast”).


  2. I must be the only writer on the planet who doesn’t use paper notebooks. My life is just too cluttered to introduce more paper! All my notes get written in Evernote, which I have on my computer, the web, and my phone. I do love to begin new stories though – and new books! There’s something particularly satisfying about opening that cover for the first time.


  3. Mary, I do actually use my software more than paper. I love that I can search and index those notes! And yes, reducing clutter is a wonderful thing. I can’t quite give up my notebooks, though. I was working with a life coach a while back, and we learned I’m more efficient if I use “snippets” of time–for instance, when I was substitute teaching, I would have a few minutes between classes, and I could sketch out a quick plot or bit of dialogue in my notebook in that time (subs didn’t have laptops, and we weren’t supposed to have phones out), and I was really motivated to flesh out what ever little bit I had jotted. Strange, I think, but it worked!


  4. Pamela, I can see that making sense in that environment. I work in tech, so I’m surrounded by computers, smartphones, tables, etc. all day, so digital is what “works.” I’d love a Mysteristas notebook though. 🙂


  5. Oooh, I love blank notebooks, too, Cynthia. So much promise right there! When the beginnings come easy, I love them. But when they don’t…it takes me awhile to love them. I’m working on two projects right now. One, where the beginning was a cinch and totally went perfectly. The other… the first 10 pages where great and everything fell apart after that. I kept thinking, “Hey, at least I have the first page!” This one will take a lot of revision, but in the end, I hope to love that beginning (after the first 10 pages) as much as the other book.


  6. So I’m not the only one who gets excited to go to OfficeMax? My daughter loves it, too, and she’s ten. 🙂 I usually use a 3-ring binder w/ tabs in for different sections like characters, theme, plot, research, go backs, and calendar. Now that I use Scrivener (sorry to be such a fanatic) I might switch to online storage of notes. I don’t know though. There is something magical about pen and paper when an idea is forming into a plot.


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