The Trick I Use to Let Me Write

How I face my writer’s block.

Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels

Every writer has writer’s blocks.

My blocks are about perfectionism. And I guess I’m not alone.

My problem is that I want to give the perfect shape to the point I want to share, to the story I want to write. I feel compelled to find that perfect form. Which, obviously, doesn’t exist.

Common advice is to start writing a raw draft. You’ll edit it later. It’s not necessary to edit while you write. Once the bulk is there, you have something to work. You can reshape, reword, cut, or decide to trash.

But it doesn’t work for me. I know I will have to edit, sooner or later. I know that I will have to give the final form to my words. If I don’t see that form before starting, it’s not worth starting, for me. I don’t want to start the process if I don’t see the end.

That’s a problem.

So, I have a trick.

I pretend that nobody will read my work. I can write, and nobody will read. So, I pick one of the possible ways of writing what I have to say, and I go on. It’s just for me. If my words don’t satisfy me, I’ll just trash them, or archive. But if the story will be something… And it usually is.

When I finish writing, three times out of four, I’m satisfied. “Well, not perfect, but it’s something. I can go on.” In a few cases, I trash or suspend.

I know, it doesn’t seem much different from the draft-edit advice, but it is.

By writing a draft, I know that it’s the first step, that I’ll probably have to go on, that, sooner or later, I’ll have to reach the final form. And sometimes this crushes me. So, I focus on removing that pressure. I start by writing my story, for an imaginary reader, but a story that nobody will read. And this assumption is true because none of my words can be seen until I decide to publish. I’m free to write the worst story in the world. I’m free to rewrite it ten times, in ten different ways. Even if this usually never happens.

Also, when I finish writing, I’m usually satisfied with the story as it is, and I do minor edit on it. Substantial editing is rare for me, because I edit as I write, while my mind is hot on the topic and the flow of my words. Yes, I’m one of those guys. I edit as I write, I can do nothing against it. I use punctuation in WhatsApp. You can’t expect raw drafts from me. So, the trick of postponing the editing phase doesn’t work on my mind.

I don’t postpone editing. I postpone the decision to publish. Of course, I will do further edit, if I publish. I know that I need a second opinion from my cold mind too. But this is out of my mind when I start writing.

The trick I use may seem valid for you, or not. It may actually not be valid for you. But the point is that you can find a hack that works for you, in your current condition and environment. You have to know yourself, observe your productivity and your results, find the obstacles. Feel the obstacles. And be your own coach. Even if you have another coach.

One day I won’t need that trick. I’m already starting to be okay without it. Maybe I’ll need a different one because I’m starting to have problems with time, more than with creativity. But I’ll have to find what works for me. I change. Life changes. My writing obstacles change.

Even if you’re a pro, you’re human.

All of us writers have one single common goal, to begin with: Have those damn words out. Do what you want to convince your mind to start, but write those words.