Monday, February 12, 2007

Free Writing

Writer’s block is a term we all hear a lot and use ourselves when it’s fitting. I don’t know where the term came from or when it was first used but I know I detest it. It’s a cop out, pure and simple.

After many years of writing, and claiming writers block during the times I haven’t written, I have found that I use it as an excuse. ‘Well, I haven’t been able to write for the last many weeks because I have writers block’- or- ‘ Can someone please help me figure out this scene? I seem to have writer’s block.’ Nonsense.

I don’t have writer’s block, I don’t even believe in it anymore and I will never again use it as an excuse for not sitting down to write. I’ve done a lot of research on the subject (I had plenty of time to research while I suffered from writers block lol), and I discovered that the term, as well as the act is rubbish.

This is how it works. We sit down and pull up our word program. Then, nothing. We stare at our empty screen and nothing at all comes to mind. Now I ask you, is that even possible? For nothing to come to our mind? Of course it’s not possible. When was the last time your brain was as blank as the screen in front of you?

We are always, and I mean always thinking on something, even if it’s the fact our screen is blank. So start there…’My screen is blank’… now keep writing. This is called the act of free writing and it’s one of my favorite things to do. It doesn’t matter what you write, you simply write down the thoughts in your brain. They don’t have to mean anything; they don’t have to tell a story. They can and likely will go like this…

I wonder if that was the dryer going off…man that dog snores loud, wonder what I’ll fix for supper tonight…gotta clean the litterbox it’s awful…

When we free write, writing down what we think now and nothing else, we give ourselves permission to write. Once we begin, our brain is unclogged and before we know what’s happening, we are writing a story. Maybe not a good one but first drafts rarely are. See what I just said…first draft. That’s right. In the middle of our free write appears a first draft. We can then delete the free writing we did to get us started and we have the makings of a story.

Next time you allow yourself to tell yourself you have writer’s block, tell yourself that’s impossible. Sit down and free write and you will soon find that blocking the thoughts of a writer is as impossible as plugging a hole in a dam with your finger.

Sherry Heidelberger-Blackburn (aka) Gwanny


Jean said...

I don't believe in writer's block either.

Now, sometimes I let life get in the way and I don't write like I should but that is my fault.

I tend to think we give so called "writer's block" a lot more power than we really should.


Cheryl said...

Here, here, Gwanny. You are so right. Actually, I use the winter blues as my excuse right now, but whatever it is, I'm not writing and that's bad.

This sounds like great advice, I might just have to give it a try the next time I get "writer's block."


Anonymous said...

Hey you took away my excuse, so now what? hehe!

I understand what you're saying. My husband loves to describe gross things to me because he knows I see them in full color. Then he'll laugh when I can't erase them. I suppose that is proof that I can't claim writers block, because there is always something up there.

Even if you tell me to draw a blank... my mind becomes a calk board and in the center of it is the blinking word: BLANK.

Thanks for the tip and I'll give your free writing a try the next time my brian tries to draw that blinking blank.


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