Try and Try Again


Song of the Sea Drawing using Adobe Photoshop

I must be as specific as possible and create a concrete next step. Without a next step, I am liable to forget my direction and find a wayward path onto some bumpy road somewhere—like accidentally killing off William B Travis before he goes to the Alamo (I suppose I could take some creative liberties here and make it a sci-fi). So, a go-to next step is helpful to keep my key characters alive and prevent myself from hitting that backspace on a good 20,000 words.

Back when Bryan and I lived in New Orleans (wow, with that opener this story could really go places, so many NOLA stories, but I’ll keep it writing related, um for now). Right, so, back in New Orleans, a dear friend of mine offered some great advice that I thought I’d share with you today. She has lived and traveled all over the world, so when she kindly offers advice, I’m all ears, pen, and notepad.

Scribbled on the inside lip of my teal journal with the French Truck sticker on the back, I wrote her words:

leave a sentence unfinished

We weren’t even talking about writing at the time--actually if I remember correctly, we were chatting about grocery lists, but that’s Kim for you; everything has the potential to be a big giant metaphor for life (and storytelling).

Leaving a sentence unfinished for the following day seems a bit less concrete and more wobbly, so, yeah, it’s a bit of a paradox: a free-spirited, certain next step, an open ended, concrete next step. But for whatever reason, it works well for me in times of crisis and slag.

I certainly do not practice this every day. In fact, I maybe only do this on the days I’m feeling a bit uncertain of the direction I should go. Or especially when I’m nearing the end of a project, and goodness am I terrible with goodbyes.

My Blue Yeti in my recording studio (the closet) teetering on leftover Christmas boxes and cat litter containers.

By leaving a sentence unfinished, detached, dangling, I’m preparing myself for the next day. I’ve given myself a lead, a thought that I’ve clung to, mulled over, and now I’m ready to finish it. I’m never left unsure of where to go because I have a start. I have a game plan. And the best part is it isn’t this elaborate plotted game plan of maps and planners and outlines (though those are all great strategies for planning and preparing); it is as simple as letting go one day and coming back the next. I don’t have to finish the tree in one sitting.

Perhaps this isn’t as concrete of a next step as you might need every writing day, but I suggest pulling this one out of the magic hat on the weeks you’re feeling a bit slump.

As I finished last week’s post with these three questions guiding me through this year, this season, I want to incorporate leaving a sentence unfinished.

That is to say, the sentence left unfinished is the art of storytelling. I’m not sure I’ll ever reach a pinnacle, but I’m alright with that. Always keep learning is my new motto. So this next season, I’m carefully, with baby steps, taking on drawing (again) and audio narration. I’m dreadful at these skills (let’s just add planning in there as well). But I’m excited to give them a shot (another shot).

May you try and try again,

Thank you, friend, for joining me as we navigate this whole learning in public thing. And if you’re new here, welcome! This is the I’ve-lost-count post in the Learning in Public series, in which I take you along as I learn to draw and story-tell. If you’d like to start from the beginning, here is the first of many.