Embracing zero

This week’s prompt:

QOTW 10: Embrace Your Zero Moment

The hardest step in your creative development is the “zero moment,” the point where you go from doing nothing to doing something. The distance between the zero moment and being a newbie is far greater than the distance between newbie and pro, yet rarely does anyone celebrate this pivotal, important step.

Today, I want you to celebrate. Think back to your zero moment and do something to celebrate that incredible leap of faith. Maybe your zero moment was ages ago and you’ve forgotten all about it. Maybe you’re in that moment right now. Regardless of where you are on your writing journey, I want you to pause and celebrate that enormous first step that brought you to where you are now.


I’ve actually written about this before, but it’s been a while, so this will be a good refresher.

So . . . I was deep in my agnostic writer phase, post-MA.

What’s an agnostic writer, you ask? Exactly what it sounds like.

The angsty version: I hoped this thing I wanted for myself (writing) was out there, but I didn’t know for sure. I’d written before, fairly regularly, even, but the MA had shaken my faith and self-confidence so much that I had serious doubts as to whether I had what it takes to find it again. What if I wasn’t worthy (as certain people had suggested)?

The funny/grounded version: I couldn’t get my ass to believe in the existence of the chair long enough to sit down and git ‘er done.

I felt the need to write within me, but I also felt fear and the fear was bigger than the need.

It’s not like I didn’t write during this period, but there are only so many times you can rewrite the first fifty pages of a novel. Story ideas stayed largely buried in the pages of my journals. Every time I sat down to write one of them, the words seemed unequal to the task.

It wasn’t the words that were unequal.

I joined the local writing group. I started to attend workshops.

And then, Nino Ricci came to town for a weekend workshop. For those of you who may not know, Nino is a big name, award-winning, Canadian literary author. Part of the weekend was workshopping our stories, the other part was a series of informal talks in which he shared his thoughts on drafting, revision, process, publication, and other aspects of the writing life.

The pivotal moment for me was when he shared his struggles in graduate school when his advisor was a legendary Canadian literary author.

His experience mirrored my own.

I wasn’t alone.

After that workshop, I sat in the chair. I wrote my words. At first, I was happy if I could write anything, even a sentence or two. Some days I faltered, but I worked up to a page a day. Then I wrote two a day.

At the end of a year, I had the first draft of my first novel.

More writing workshops, conferences, online critique groups, and I had a revised draft. I started writing short stories again. I tried NaNoWriMo. I started tracking my writing progress.

Now, I’m a writing machine 🙂 I have six novels drafted and I’m working on revising them. I’m querying my first novel. Two of my science fiction short stories have been published in paying markets.

And it all started with someone sharing his hardship.

That’s why I share my story. If I can help one writer the way Nino Ricci helped me, I am happy to show my tender belly. Every writer has been there. You are not the only one.

Please raise a glass to the zero moment. We each have our journey. It has to start somewhere.