Frustration is alive and well in Writerland. I sympathize with the comments about making the effort to write and then not having much to show for it. Yet maybe it’s a good time to remind ourselves of the biggest secret to writing. As Gertrude Stein famously wrote, “I write to discover what I know.”
Writing Tip for Today: The secret? Write crap. You don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at why this works:
- You think about your writing while you’re doing other things. While it doesn’t exactly count as writing, it’s a solid precursor to formulating what you wish to say.
- Take off the internal brake when you sit down to write and allow yourself to let the words flow. You will either hate it and delete, thereby writing next what you wished to, or else your subconscious will write what you really want to say.
- For fiction and memoir: Think cinematically. Scenes come quicker and more easily if you watch your own movie as you write. The number one mistake I see in first novels is a lack of meaningful action.
- Don’t edit as you write. If your editor hat is on while you create, your creative hat gets smothered. Quit agonizing over word choices and whether you have “ly” words. When you draft, you get it down. Later, when you revise, you fix it up.
- Give yourself deadlines. Writers who belong to crit groups or who take classes often cite as reasons accountability or discipline. If you know you must workshop your stuff this week, it gives you a goal. For those unable to find or join a group, there are online groups available. Or you could hire a mentor like me to keep those words coming.
- Most of all, if you are crafting fiction, remember that for this writing time you set aside, you get to enter a world. A world you plucked out of your imagination. Dive in with gusto, for soon the floor will need sweeping, the day job will come calling and you will have to answer. If you write crap, if you give yourself permission to draft horrid, no-good, awful prose, you won’t be disappointed if your efforts need a lot of work. Yes, the secret’s out now. Write crap and you may be pleasantly surprised.
Try This! If you are experiencing “writer’s block” or some other hindrance to word count production, time yourself. For ten minutes either type or write without stopping. Even if you have to write, “I can’t think of anything to write.” Chances are you’ll tire of such nonsense and write something you didn’t know was in you.