Thursday, April 15, 2010

Don't Think, Write

Do you ever have those days when you're feeling muzzy and unmotivated?

You know how it is. Sometimes you feel you should write, but you don't feel like it. And even if you did, you're plagued by the thought you can't think of anything to write about.

Or maybe you know you have an important scene or an article to write and you can't find the necessary impetus to get you started. Worse, you just can't be bothered to write at all - it's too hard to even contemplate.

What do you do when this happens to you?

If you write for a living, this can be especially troubling. After all, if you're not writing, you're not working. So you feel bad because you know that not writing equals no money coming in, now or in the future...

What's the solution?

First of all you need to get your head around 'The Big Secret.'

And the big secret is that career writers don't need a reason to write. They don't need inspiration or a good idea. They don't even need to be in the right mood.

Fact is that thinking - as in trying to come up with ideas - doesn't work very well as a way to make you write.

When you write all the time, as a habit, it's like breathing. You just sit yourself in front of the computer and the words simply pour out. This is because the brain doesn't use its logical side to write. It uses the creative side, which is hard-wired to the subconscious.

And, as I often point out to new writers, it's your subconscious that writes for you. Best thing is that this wellspring of ideas never runs out. As long as you keep tapping out words, the ideas will keep coming.

Actually stopping and thinking for a moment disrupts this process because you're disengaging the subconscious to consider something with your logical brain.

So next time you're struggling, don't think, just write.

I met one of the writers of Shrek once and he said he would sit down and sometimes write: Can't think of anything to write today. But I need an idea. Come on brain, give me something to write about. I need you to... and so on, until something came.

Great idea, right?

My partner is a full time fiction author and she writes every day without fail - she gets up in the morning, makes tea then sits down to write for three or four hours. I ask her, "What do you do when you don't feel like writing?"

"Fake it," she says. "Pretend you want to write and sure enough, the muse kicks in after about ten minutes and then everything's fine. I just keep going after that."

My problem is that I always have too much to do. I end up writing even when I don't feel like it because, well, I have to.

Nothing would happen unless I wrote. From little things like business strategies I hand over to my assistants, to lessons I'm writing for students. These things have deadlines.

And the way to make myself write more fiction is to apply a deadline to that too. Otherwise I probably wouldn't do it...

Actually that's not true. I feel the urge to write pretty much all the time. It's what I write - and for how long - that's my greatest issue.

Take this article for instance. I started out thinking last night about how social sites seem to be taking over the Net. I thought maybe I could write an article about that. As the night wore on I realized that I could probably write a book about social marketing - the arena is so complex and fascinating (to me, anyway!) So I decided I'd put off that article and write about something else.

But I couldn't think of anything.

So I sat down this morning, knowing I had to write something for the newsletter, and just started typing.

An hour later and this is the result.

I look back and have no idea where all the above words came from - and I'm amazed at how much I had to say about nothing much at all.

Now if I can do that...

...you can too!

Keep writing!
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The Easy Way to Write

Welcome to the official blog of the Easy Way to Write from Rob Parnell, updated weekly - sometimes more often!