What some writers call writers block is sometimes just the habit of thinking too much when they sit down to write.
I’m not saying there are no times when your head gets so blank and you don’t know how to start, but in many cases, it is because you are trying to churn out perfect words in your head even before you get them on paper.
Have you not met writers who’ll tell you they’ve figured out every idea for an article in their head, they just can’t get the right sentences out? Right words, yeah. That’s where the real problem lies. We forget that nothing is really right in the first draft.
I still encounter situations like this where a story would make sense in my head but after I scribble down one or two paragraphs, I’ll pause and read what I’ve written and wonder if I wasn’t writing nonsense. Interestingly, some of the stories I finally willed myself to complete turned out beautifully.
So I learnt that I’ll continue to get stuck if I keep analyzing what I’ve written, what I still need to write, and whether anybody would enjoy my piece when I finally publish it.
Shut the door to the left side of your brain while you write. Leave criticism for the editing stage. Just get out what you have in your head.
The first draft was never intended to make so much sense. It is absolutely normal to find a lot of grammatical errors and unnecessary sentences flooding your work as you write.
It is perfectly okay to write garbage- as long as you edit brilliantly.–
This is what I do when I am tempted to read a paragraph or sentence in the process of writing a piece. I talk aloud to myself. So you’ll hear me saying words like;
‘Ife, you will read it later, keep writing!’
‘Ife! don’t stop. Keep going.’
I had to learn to do this because there were stories and articles that I had not been able to complete because I started half way and I was just thinking so much about it. I kept analyzing until the story synopsis became unrealistic to me.
I don’t know if you’ve experienced this, but there are times when as you allow your pen to flow unhindered, new ideas you never thought of when you started writing just flows into your mind, and as you keep at it, so many puzzles just fit.
At other times, after leaving your first draft for a day or two and you settle to edit, you’ll discover that what you thought didn’t make sense has within it such originality and depth. You see why you need to just kick out those thoughts and write?
Since your first draft is for your eyes only,why worry if someone considers you a bad writer? Forget everything else and just pour those words out.
So how do you avoid making this mistake of thinking too much before and while writing? What can help you sustain the flow while you write?
1. Do your research before writing. Figure out what you want to write about.
Many times, before I scribble down my web story series, I already have an idea of the beginning and the end of the story. I also love to engage my stories first in my mind. My characters take physical shapes and express themselves emotionally in my head. So when I sit to write, I’m already excited and it’s easy to follow through. What I’m saying is, prepare your mind mentally.
If it’s an area you are not so familiar with, search for the topic on google and read what others have to say about it, then scribble down snippets of your thoughts
I have learnt that, reading a lot and arming oneself with enough information keeps the writer’s mind engaged. If you write on a subject you have little or no information on, it will slow down your work.
Imagine that I want to publish an article on ways to effectively breastfeed a baby. What do you expect me to write if I don’t research and learn from other women who are married. Your content flows smoothly when you are vast in the area you want to write about.
2. An introduction is really all you need to kick start. For my non-fiction piece, I love to draw from a relatable story and once I can figure that out, I’m good to go.
Whether it makes sense or not, once you are able to introduce your topic, go ahead. If you have a firm grip on that subject matter, it’ll all come together as you write.
3. Don’t read your work until you finish writing. Write while the heat of that story or idea is in you.
4. Discover the best time in the day that your mind is more opened to creativity and leverage on it.
I don’t do well writing between 4a.m and 8a.m. It’s not just the best time to write. I’ve tried several times to wake up early to write an article but it has not worked for me, at least not yet. This is probably because I’m a night crawler. My point is, understand your body system and flow with it.
5. As an exception, there are times when you might be so stuck at a point and you really can’t put down any more words. Take a break. Research. Read what others are saying about that topic. It’ll keep your mind fresh.
6. Keep out distractions while you write. Your data should be turned off if you really want to do some serious work.
7. On days when you are too tired to write, don’t push. You can read books instead. You can also spend time editing the articles you have already written.
It’s time to stop thinking and let those words flow.