How to Write When You Just Can’t Think What to Write
Welcome back. I’m really glad to see you here for Day 3 of your peek into the exclusive Circle of Success Blog I write every week.
I’ve chosen the blog entries I’m sharing because I feel they offer you some of the most crucial secrets to writing success.
If you had the opportunity to read yesterday’s article, you remember we talked about the importance of weaving your promise and benefits throughout your entire writing – the Golden Thread.
But, what if you’re having trouble getting started in the first place. What if you’re stuck?
This bane of all writers can strike at any time. It can hit when you first start writing. Or, it can raise its monstrous head as you’ve been sailing along doing just fine.
Here’s what I offered to my COS Blog readers …
Sometimes you just need a break
Let’s say you have a good idea to start with. Maybe you’ve started fine. Or, maybe you just can’t get started. So, what do you do then?
Neil Gaiman is an author of many best-selling books including Coraline, an animated feature film that grossed over $120 million worldwide. Here’s what he, many successful writers, and I all do when we hit this snag …
Put it aside for a few days, or longer, do other things, try not to think about it.
I call this strategy “letting ideas blossom.”
Even though Gaiman recommends putting the writing away for a few days, you might not have to wait that long. Often you can get over the hump by getting away from the keyboard. Go for a walk, exercise, take a shower, or dance.
But do something that takes your mind far enough away from your work, so you can harness your greatest ally in your search for the right words.
That ally is your subconscious. Research shows ideas develop in the subconscious. When you’re trying too hard to grab at those ideas with your conscious mind, you hinder your subconscious ability to develop them.
So, when the words just won’t come, sometimes the best thing to do is something else.
And, sometimes, you just need to write
Often when you’re first starting on a project, the first step is the hardest. “How do I start? What am I going to say?”
It’s almost as if the writing part of your brain were a pump gone dry. So, what do you do when a pump goes dry? You prime it, of course.
“What I try to do is write … and it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try … and then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.’”
– Maya Angelou
“I encourage my students at times like these to get one page of anything written, three hundred words of memories or dreams or stream of consciousness on how much they hate writing.”
– Anne Lamott
But I disagree (a little) with Anne Lamott. Don’t write just anything. Instead, write a friendly letter to a good friend. Start out without saying anything about what you started out to write. Tell your friend about your recent trip to the Amazon. Ask how her son is doing in Clown College.
Then, when your conscious mind is relaxed and your subconscious has had a chance to activate, write about what you wanted to in the first place. Keep the same breezy, informal chitchat going you used in the beginning.
You’ve primed the pump, and pretty soon you’re well on your way to leaping over the barrier that was blocking you.
These strategies for smashing through writer’s block all work. I know. I’ve used them all … many times.
I look forward to seeing you again tomorrow when we’ll look at the mindset of successful freelancers.
But before you leave, please let me know what you think so far. Leave your comments and questions in the comment section.
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