• Alissa Johnson
  • Type a word. Think. Type a word. Think. Here's how to end the madness.
Type a word. Think. Type a word. Think. Here's how to end the madness.
Contributor
Written by
Alissa Johnson
November 2017
Writing
Contributor
Written by
Alissa Johnson
November 2017
Writing

An aspiring writer told me that she wants to write a book based on some of the true (and funny) experiences she’s had working with kids. She has a whole list of stories to include. 

When I asked if she’d tried writing any of them, she said that she had, but it went something like this:

•    Type a word
•    Sit and think
•    Type a word
•    Sit and think

Not making much progress, she walked away. And I don’t blame her. I know what it’s like to think about writing more than you write, and it’s not that fun.

When you think about writing that much, chances are a tricky little mindset is at play: I should.

As in, I should write the perfect next word. I should make sure that this story is as funny on the page as it was in real life. I should get it right the first time.

Sometimes it comes across as a question. Should I use that word next? Should I include this detail or not? Should I have more background, or should I jump into the story?

The problem with this line of thinking (as this writer knew) is that you get stuck. Instead of writing, you think too much and give up. 

If you’re thinking too much, or getting stuck because you feel like you need to do it a certain way, try a focused freewrite:

Set a timer for 10-15 minutes and freewrite around this topic:

  • When it comes to my writing, I feel like I should...
  • But it would be easier and more fun to....

Then let yourself try whatever comes up that feels easier or more fun, even if it doesn't feel like the right way to do things.

Why use a timer? There's something about the timer that eases the pressure, and when you stop worrying about writing well, it's much easier to get in the flow. You can always go back and edit later, when you have something to work with. 

Give it a try, and let me know how it works in the comments or on the WritingStrides Facebook page.

P.S. Ready for a writing breakthrough? Break free from writing rules that don't work and find your way with my FREE three-part series: Inside the Writers Mind. The first insight (and writing prompt) could be yours today.

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