A few weeks ago, I was speaking with a fellow author about writer’s block. She said she didn’t know what was wrong. For some reasons the stories weren’t coming to her like they used to. “Writer’s Block,” she claimed, but that didn’t sound right to me. The stories were coming to her as always. She had concepts and would go on and on about plots, but when it came to sitting at the keyboard and bringing the characters to life—nothing. Or even worse, the writing felt flat. It was time for a major shake-up. I couldn’t allow my girl to go out like that.
Did you know that writing by hand, speaking into a recording device and typing into a word processor each tap into your brain differently? It’s faster to type your manuscript than having to transcribe something that is handwritten or recorded, so that is the method many of us use. My author friend lived and planned on dying by the word processor. When I suggested tapping into her creativity using handwritten or oral methods, she said she didn’t have all of that time.
I told her to indulge me. Turn off the computer—which she hadn’t been able to do much more than surf the Internet on when she was supposed to be writing—pick up the writing utensil of her choice and start writing the book she’d told me about during our walks.
She came over to “visit” me, but I will go to my grave saying she actually came over to “torture” me while we both wrote using pen and paper. This was also an exercise for me, because I hadn’t written this way in years. I’ll give you one guess what happened? It started out rocky and she worked my last nerve, but within an hour, we were both writing demons. After we typed out what we’d done, we critiqued each other’s work and her writing had that umph again. Don’t get me wrong, her books were still good but they were missing some of the zeal of the past. And yes, I’ll tell on myself. She said the same types of things about my writing.
I wrote so much faster this way that I believe I still came out ahead time wise by writing by hand then typing it into the word processor. This got me to thinking—WHY? Why was my writing freer? I also recorded a few scenes as I took my walk, and they also flowed easily. I have no scientific evidence to support what I’m about to say, but in addition to tapping into a different portion of my brain for creativity, using a pen and paper unplugged me from two huge distractions.
- Easy access to the Internet is a HUGE distraction. Be honest, how much of your writing time do you spend surfing the net, on social media, checking emails… If you must write using your computer, be sure to turn off your Internet connection. Granted, it is easy to turn log back on, but resist the urge. And don’t make excuses like I need to check the dictionary or look something up. You may need to, but instead make a list of items then set aside time to do that research. Every time you stop writing to do whatever, you interfere with the flow of the work and it’s hard to get into a good rhythm.
- Spelling/grammar check and your internal editor. I know you are thinking I’m crazy, but I noticed this the other week when I was writing a scene. As I’m typing, if I make a mistake, I go back and fix it right then and there. This messes up your flow.
Though life itself can be quite a distraction, at least I wouldn’t have either of these distractions when I write by hand or record scenes. I don’t worry about spelling, grammar, punctuation, syntax… I just write. I’m free. Then when I transcribe the scenes using the word processor, I massage them a little, and I’m good to go.
I know we are in the electronic age and many of you are thinking there is no way you will take the time to handwrite or record then transcribe but I want you to give it a try. In the long run, you may save time and release new parts of your creativity.
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