Writer’s Block: Why I don’t cry over spilled coffee.
You’re on your third cup of coffee and have been sitting in front of your laptop for two hours. You can’t find the right words for your paper and your deadline is at 5pm.
All you have written is today’s date.
If that describes your life, regardless of what you’re writing for, I promise that you will have one paragraph written by the end of this article.
But bear with me for a second — pretend for a moment that today is your wedding.
The sun is shining and you walk out of the ceremony feeling on top of the world. Those wedding photos are going to get you so many likes on Instagram. You know it’s true. (And they’re great memories of course.)
The photographer pulls out a beautiful Nikon camera and proceeds to take one photo, and what she does next alarms you.
“It didn’t come out,” she says after looking at her digital screen. She looks up at you.
“Well… I tried!” She shrugs and puts away her camera.
Of course, you’re angry. This is an absurd scenario. A good wedding photographer takes a thousand photos and then picks the best fifty or less. That is what you paid for.
This reminds me of the time I got coffee and also didn’t get what I “paid for.”
I sat in front of my laptop in a small coffee shop. I was working on a new writing piece in Microsoft Word. Every time I took a sip of my caramel latte, I somehow managed to let some coffee spill onto my hipsteresque (SP?) sweater.
I realized that besides reading some Facebook articles, those coffee spills were the only real thing that had happened to me over that last two hours. What a waste of time.
Have you ever felt that way when you’re trying to write? And then you say…
“I have writer’s block.”
That was the first thing that came to my mind. But then I realized I had ideas and thoughts that I could write, I was just worried they weren’t the right ones.
Writer’s block was not my inability to write, it was simply my fear of writing the wrong words on paper.
The day you stop fearing the possibility of writing the wrong words, is the day you slay the Writer’s Block dragon.
What if a musician sat down with his instrument, and complained he was afraid of hitting the wrong notes so he couldn’t play?
You would probably laugh at this — he would never reach a new level of skill if he didn’t play the wrong notes a thousand times first.
In the same way, writing a thousand wrong words may be necessary to find each right one.
So next time you sit down to write your paper, article or email, don’t be afraid to just write — it’s that easy. You’re not wasting time and coffee.
You’re not getting a tattoo. You can delete words later.
Be a photographer of words. Capture a million different angles of what you are trying to say. Relax. You can edit them. You can cut 999 of them. I know telling you to spend MORE time writing is not what you want to hear. Don’t worry, I said I would help more than just presenting pictures of various random squirrels that I employed to keep your attention.
I promised I would leave you with one paragraph to start your that article you are trying to write. Here is how it starts:
“Dear [Insert Name],”
Picture your audience whoever it may be, regardless if you are writing in first or third person. For example if you are writing an academic paper:
“Dear [Insert Name],
You asked me to write a paper on the issue of dinosaur extinction. You also mentioned you wanted to see a paper that describes why and how dinosaurs represent humanity.
Honestly, these are my thoughts:”
So informal, such sub-par writing, right?
You just slayed the writer’s block dragon. You established confidence in writing down your honest thoughts, regardless of whether they turned out to be the “right” words.
You replaced fear with honest impulsive writing.
Think through your idea. Write with reckless abandon. Edit later.
Only a select few wordsmiths aren’t afraid to speak their minds and take the time to turn that informal and sincere writing into excellent, edited content.
Also, I wrote this article, because I was having “writer’s block.”