2021 May Blog Post
Five writing tips
Two minute read.
I don’t know who first said, “You can’t edit a blank page” because it’s been attributed to more people than I care to count but that’s probably because we like the truth of the statement. We like that it gives us room.
What’s more intimidating than a blank page? A blank page you’ve been staring at for fifteen minutes. I’ve been there. I took all the advice others gave to me and wrote garbage on the paper but I knew it was just garbage. I understood that you can’t edit a blank page but I felt like I was boxing in a straightjacket. I couldn’t get out of the blank page.
In my humble opinion it is usually psychological (I am not a doctor and am not advising you to do anything. I also don’t play a doctor on TV.). It’s fair to say that if you are struggling to write, you are trying to write for the wrong reasons.
As a writer you have to give up the idea of writing a NY Times Bestselling book that is turned into a movie so that you can make a million dollars and be wildly famous and happy. You must write to write as I call it. If that’s sounds kind of Zen and nebulous…it probably is. But you might find that your writer’s block is a matter of “I want to write so that I can show my dad that I am worth something.” You are writing in order to prove something or some variation of that theme. At the end of the day, you must write because that is how you must express yourself. Creation is always about your vision and bringing that vision or idea to fruition.
Writing to write means writing your very best that day, which may be terrible. Writing to write might mean writing a letter, a blog post, a condolence letter to a friend. It might mean writing down the next three index cards to plot your next book. On a good day, it might mean writing fifteen pages in a fever of production and you already know how you’re going to write tomorrow’s scene. One day is not better than the next because to have that fifteen-page day, you also have those one-paragraph days. They were both your best effort.
You need to find out what’s blocking your writing. I was in a writing class once and we traded writing assignments. I was reading my fellow student’s chapter. She wrote “I’ll write more about Charlie’s business empire here,” and then she moved on with her story. That little trick was an epiphany for me. I can’t write that right now but I’ll fill it in later and carry on with the rest of my story while I’m flowing here. She didn’t let herself be stopped with getting the job done. I’ve adopted her technique many times and have found it helpful. Once the structure is there you can go back and fill in the details.
I’m not saying to give yourself an easy out. You have to write something every day and having a goal of writing ‘x’ many pages a day is great and worked for me for years. Until it didn’t.
I was very anxious and frustrated for years and felt pressure to write a great book and people kept asking me how’s the book coming and I finally said I don’t know if I’ll ever publish this book (or in my case these books). I’m writing to create and I’m having fun. That’s when I began feeling free to write from my heart. I quit worrying about what other people would think about me.
I hope you will too.