Jump off the Balcony
Written by
Buffi Neal
August 2010
Written by
Buffi Neal
August 2010
Got writers block? Jump. Agents rejecting you? Jump. Someone said your writing is rambling? Jump. My kids are always jumping off our second floor balcony. Don’t ring up Social Services… they land on the couch. Then they squeal in delight and run up the stairs to do it again.
Today I decided to try it myself. I climbed over the railing and stood on the edge. “I was a kid once. I used to do back flips off diving boards twice this high.” The kids cheered, “Jump Mom,” and “You can do it,” followed by, “Don’t be scared.” And you know what? I didn’t jump. Why? Because I’m forty-two-freakin’ years old, that’s why. I hung my head and took the long walk-of-shame down the stairs. I complain all the time about wanting to have the exuberance of youth, yet when faced with an opportunity to feel the excitement, I held back. It got me thinking. Where else in my life am I afraid? So of course I thought about my book. Because when you’re writing, everything pertains to the book, right? I thought about the writing, the never-ending editing cycle, the queries, rejections and everything else that comes with this crazy consuming endeavor. And what I found is that I am afraid. Here are my examples of how I stopped being afraid and started jumping:
I’ve got writer’s block.
Me Afraid: I embraced the writer’s block and used the time to clean the house. I told myself, “Everyone encounters it. Don’t be hard on yourself.” I actually pulled a muscle trying to pat myself on the back. Me Jumping: In school, we would never say, “Sorry Teacher, I didn’t do my assignment ‘cause I have writer’s block.” So, I decided to force myself to finish my chapter. But I needed to make a change. Here’s a list of what I tried: - I put my pad and paper in a baggie and rowed myself up a river in a canoe. - I asked my kids to write the ending. Kids have magical insight. - I wrote naked. I wrote while eating. I wrote while cooking. - I took a road trip. Pen and paper in my lap. - I set the alarm for 3 A.M. to write. I wrote some incoherent stuff about root beer and went back to bed. Result: My writer’s block didn’t magically disappear, but I did gain some control over my mind. Writing is no longer an uncontrollable creature living inside me. It’s an integrated part of me now.
Someone said my writing is rambling.
Me Afraid: I turned to one of my writing buddies for support. She said, “There’s always gunna be someone who doesn’t like your work.” Me Jumping: I considered, for a moment, that my writing is rambling. I went back to the chapter in question and I read it over and over again to see if it was rambling. I sent it out to a few friends to help me determine if it was rambling. I bought a book on writing by Sol Stien. I know. I know. I’m rambling. Result: I rewrote that chapter and it’s glorious. I have no real proof that I was rambling, but the result from jumping was a better chapter and an open mind.
"You'll never publish a memoir unless your famous."
Me Jumping: I submitted my memoir query to ten more agents.
Sometimes when we’re standing at the edge, we don’t need anyone to talk us down.
We just need a push.

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