From Imagination To Publication

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday - Curing Writer's Block by Conquering Perfectionism

Writer's block used to be a huge problem for me. In college I used to toil over every word in every sentence. It took me days to write papers when my friends wrote them in hours. What really helped was figuring out what caused those moments of creative absence - the culprit, perfectionism. I’ve always been obsessive in that way, constantly searching for the perfect word, the perfect phrase, and in writing that can be a blessing and a curse. Mostly it’s the latter.

Sure being a perfectionist helps when you are trying to nitpick through your manuscript in its final round of editing, but that’s about it. If you have no manuscript to pick through, because you haven’t written anything, then…well, you see what I mean. If you don’t get up the guts to just vomit out all of your nonsensical words onto a page no matter how imperfect they are, you won’t get anywhere.
Don't let perfectionism stifle your writing process. If what you write is terrible, so be it. At least you wrote something.

When it comes to writer’s block in terms of ideas failing to come to me (as opposed to struggling to form perfect sentences) I tell myself, who cares if the idea is stupid? Write it.

When courage fails me, and I just can’t bring myself to write down my stupid idea, I’ve learned that the best solution is to walk away. Close up shop. The universe isn’t feeling giving today. Now this doesn’t mean I’ve decided to throw my hands up and quit (it doesn't even mean I've technically stopped the writing process) I’ve just switched mediums. Instead of trying to write by sitting and staring at a blank screen...I turn on the brain and think. I move on to something else, whatever is next on my to-do list, and while I’m doing it (washing dishes, laundry, grocery shopping) I dive deep down into my fantasy world and think, think, think. The beauty about thinking is it is safe. If a thought or idea is imperfect, silly, doesn’t fit the story, etc., it doesn’t matter, no harm done, no wasted time, no feelings of failure.

Usually, I give up writing for thinking until I’m satisfied with an idea (this could be days or weeks). If I’m not writing, you better believe I am spending every spare moment thinking about writing. I truly believe dedicating time to thinking about your story (without writing it) kills writer’s block.

Sorry I have no magical trick like drinking water upside-down while watching T.V., but everyone’s experience is different. My solution – stop writing and THINK.


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