Writer's Digest

THE COLD OPEN

I’ve been writing six days a week for more than 25 years. For the last 10 years my schedule has become so clocklike that I am predictably at my desk by 6:28 a.m. I never miss a day unless I’m traveling or it’s Christmas. I also always write something, whether it’s a complete essay or part of a chapter. Yet every time I sit down at my desk, whether I’m working on a book or a blog, I am never in the mood to write. In fact, I often begin my day’s work with this thought: I’ve got nothing.

It’s true. That’s my starting place nearly every morning. I believe, in fact, it’s where every writer who writes with any regularity begins their day of work. In my experience, it’s absolutely normal, if not inevitable—and while I have worked and am still working to master many aspects of the craft and business of writing, it’s the beginning. Those first minutes at the desk before anything’s happening—before any ideas have come, when I am stone-dead cold without a single ember of interest in my mind—require the most discipline from me, as well as remind me what it means to

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