I can’t count on the number of toes and fingers I have remaining how many times I’ve heard someone say or write the words showing up is half the battle.
I have never agreed with this phrase.
Showing up to anything takes courage; I get it. But it’s not the battle. It’s not even half of the fight. Showing up is nothing more than the initial mental skirmish we have with ourselves as we try to convince ourselves to take that first step.
Here’s an example of what I mean, and I’ll use myself as an example. Of course, you all may be thinking right now using crazy P.G. as an example of showing up just won’t cut it.
Maybe I’m an example of all the weird and strange oddities existing in this world but certainly not an example about showing up, right?
Well, any volunteers out there?
One Mississippi…..Two Mississippi…And Three Mississippi.
Okay, then we’ll use me as an example. I show up to work Monday through Friday, five grueling, mind-melting, punishing, tortuous days a week.
I love my job, I love my job, I love my job, I love my job.
On these workdays, I get up at five AM, get ready, leave the house and drive twenty-six miles to the plant, badge in, turn on my computer, and head to the coffee machine.
We have a water cooler, but at six-thirty in the morning nobody is hanging out around it.
What I do after I shag my first cup of coffee determines whether or not I showed up to work, or just showed up. I could sit my butt in my chair and browse the internet all day, giving my job just the barest amount of attention necessary to keep them from walking me to my truck, or I could knuckle down and fight the good fight.
I could fight the good fight, the real battle.
Not the initial mental skirmish I had with myself while I was all warm and contented beneath my blankets snoring, but the actual war often referred to as, THE JOB.
I could take the calls, attend the mind screwing meetings, deal with complaints from the business the project is taking too long, and we’re spending too much money.
Or I could enjoy the initial skirmish of showing up and be a dotard all day.
“Has anybody seen P.G.?”
“Last time I saw him, he was sitting in a conference room all by himself laughing at his computer.”
As a writer, showing up is the easy part. On weekends, just like today, as I write this, showing up in front of the computer, cracking my knuckles, then hovering my fingers over the keyboard is nothing but a preliminary skirmish. The real battle, the one I must tackle every time I write, is with one of the evilest enemies a writer must battle.
The Blank Page.
Now here’s where the war starts, my friends. Here is where each side competes for a tiny purchase of real-estate. The blank page fights to stay pristine and bare while I hammer away at it to fill it up with readable and enjoyable prose.
This is where the fiercest battle is always pitched.
What’s worse about this battle is that sometimes the page wins. Sometimes I hammer at that blank page, read the drivel I just wrote, then hold my finger on the delete key and try again, only to stick my finger on the delete key once more.
But you know what? Sometimes I win. Maybe not the war, but I win a major conflict that just might turn the tide of the entire war. Not only did I show up, but I made it through to the other side of the battle. Showed that sucker a thing or two.
So what about you? You showed up and sat your butt in the chair in front of the computer? Or you're curled up on your couch with pen or pencil in hand?
Good for you.
Now write something.
Write something somebody is going to want to read. Write what your heart and head are telling you, you have to write. Pour out your heart, bleed on the page. Rip your emotions out and smear the love, hate, fear, insecurity, hopelessness, happiness, or pain all over it.
This is the battle folks, the real battle we as writers must endure, and for most of us, we have to wage war on our enemy the blank page daily.
Anybody who has ever said “war is hell” evidently hasn’t ever tried to dig deep within their soul and expose how they’re feeling at the moment to the entire blasted world.
It’s a writer’s very intimate and very real version of war and yes, hell.
So with me, each time I hear someone say or I read the words “showing up is half the battle,” I mentally tell myself, or sometimes forget and use that outside voice of mine to point out that no, showing up is not half of the battle.
Showing up will never be half of the fight.
Showing up is just a preliminary skirmish you have with yourself to get geared up to fight the real action, the battle between you and the blank page. The struggle between you and writer’s block, which some say doesn’t exist, but from which most of us suffer constant attacks.
This is where the real battle is happening, folks. The fact you crawled out bed, and you’re still in your jammies with bed hair as you sit in front of your computer screen isn’t even going to get you halfway to winning this war we writers are continually fighting.
So, take another spot of tea or coffee, or hell, knock back a double malt scotch if you so desire. Then crack your knuckles, or chew on the eraser end of a pencil, maybe spin your spinner mindlessly a half dozen times.
All of these actions are just prep work, the skirmish before the action gets hot and heavy. Get the recon out of the way, so you know just how big this beast, this enemy, is and then attack. Send your mind to the front lines and press the battle, charge up the hill, or down depending on where you left your story or what you want to write about.
Get in the trenches and fight the good fight.
Because in my opinion, showing up which is supposed to be half the battle, isn’t.
Unless you’re willing to engage in full-on, day to grueling day combat in the trenches fighting writer’s block and the blank page, taking it to the enemy in battle, you are never going to get there.
Don’t just show up.
Show up and write.
Let’s keep in touch: email@example.com
© P.G. Barnett, 2019. All Rights Reserved.