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Write On!
Follow The Bouncing Ball
By Ken Robinson
February, 2006, 15:35

hat is that little ball, dancing across your vision as you stare off into space?

Oh, you’re not staring, you’re writing. You sure? It doesn’t look like it. Having trouble getting started? Is nothing floating down to you from that ethereal realm of imagination? Hmm.

What about that odd little orb, dancing the jig, that keeps grabbing your attention?

What color is it?

Is it opaque or translucent?

Is it solid or wispy?

Is it rigid or wobbling?

Is it dancing a palpitating pas de deux or a woeful waltz?

Why is that ball of energy jumping around right here, right now?

Is it being forced to dance?

Can it escape from its forced labor?

What emotions are roiling inside it as it dances?

What will it do if it escapes?

Will it take revenge for being forced to nakedly dance an intimate part of its existence in front of you?

Or has it been broken down into a shell of its former self?

You should write all of that down. Why? For me, if I just can get started writing something, anything, I eventually find the flow. But getting started is the key.

Every time I sit down to write I’m afraid that I won’t have anything to say. Will anything happen? Where will it come from? What if I can’t write again?

I have no idea where our muse comes up with the stuff of dreams. And that really bothers me. I like to be organized. How can I be organized in my writing if I don’t know where the next word is coming from?

It is really frightening.

But I’m in denial about the whole thing. I put my head down and bull through that initial rash of panic and fear and get that pen moving as quickly as possible so I don’t dwell on it and become paralyzed.

Don’t dwell on what you can’t do. Find something you can write about. Why does your cat hate the vase it keeps knocking off the shelf? What does your dog see when it stands in the corner and stares at the wall. Who or what keeps making that noise in the attic? Whatever is on your mind, get it down.

Want to hear a story? Of course you do, that’s why you’re here.

This is a true story. After I had started writing screenplays, I read on a website that this guy, we’ll call him Talking Guy, wanted to start a film group and make movies. Talking Guy got five enthusiastic people to attend. They were all motivated. They got an idea, wrote a script, got a camera and were ready to go.

Suddenly Talking Guy had excuses for why we shouldn’t start “just yet.” We’d fix that problem, but he’d come up with another. After three or four turns at this we finally got fed up and made our own group and got started on the project.

It took us a while but we shot our first movie, it won a few awards, and has been shown as far away as Hawaii along side an Oscar winner. Since then we’ve completed three other shorts, have one in post-production, and many others in pre-production.

What did the excuses get Talking Guy? Nothing. Zip. Nada. He’s still doing the same stuff he was before.

There will always be handy excuses for not doing something. The people that use them are those that say, “What if I had . . .” as life passes them by.

So as the title of this column says, Write On!IN Icon

Regular IN columnist Ken Robinson grew up and lives in Oklahoma. After five years in Ireland, he's been writing screenplays for two and a half years. Four of his scripts have been optioned by Woofenil Works, two low-budget projects now in preproduction, as well as West Law. Email:

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