Do you struggle with writing? Do you have an idea of what to write about but then can’t figure out how to put that idea down on paper? Do you sometimes give up? And do you wonder how to write what you mean and express what you think?
You might be thinking, didn’t you just write about writing last week? I did. And because I always have so much to write about, I decided to make my subject for the month of April the topic of writing. So, if you like to write and are looking to learn more tricks of the trade, I hope you’ll stay through the end of my blog to learn a few of my tips for writing more freely and more fully.
Always Full of Ideas
My mind is always in constant motion with ideas. Yet, sometimes, when I put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, what comes out is not what I first intended. If the ideas are better, I get excited. But if the words I get out are less than my wondrous thoughts were, I think of the time I wasted in trying to write what I was first thinking. And I can get discouraged and want to give up. But….
Thankfully, and often, I stop myself and just pause. I take time to remember that like art and music, or dancing or pottery-making, writing is simply a way to express oneself. When I can remember to pause and recall what writing is, the words become easier. The writing takes on a shape and life of its own, and I’m able to get my thoughts and ideas down on paper, out of my mind and into the world. And I’m a lot happier about being a “writer” who can get thoughts from brain onto paper.
Words Are Magic
When I think of words as magic and writing as a tool to get those words out on paper and into the big, bright world, I have much more success than thinking of writing as something like a form of career. I mean, think about it. Words are what we use to express how we feel and what we think, and everyone who can write does this. So writing is simply the form or shape words take from our brain to our fingertips to get our thoughts and expressions onto paper or a screen.
I believe that when we keep things simple, and don’t overthink ourselves to death, we can achieve what we set out to do. If we keep a perspective of writing as a means, then we can have the success of expressing ourselves in a way we’ve been striving for all along – except that, as people who love to write or feel called to “write,” we can make writing hard for ourselves. When we remember that every person uses a form of writing to do every day things like their jobs, make lists, and write letters, we can embrace our love for writing and the flow of it only gets easier after that.
Once we get a good perspective on what writing is and how our words can flow better, then we can really write. Maybe not to our heart’s content all of the time, but to get a good part of our thoughts down on paper or screen more successfully. When our perspective shifts, and we start to see writing as a tool rather than something ominous, we can then see our words – our thoughts, ideas, and feelings – expressed, or come alive, in the ink on paper or print on screen.
There’s something magical then about the writing process when our perspective shifts. We can then see how quickly our fingers bring those thoughts from the night before or the morning of – into life, right there on our paper or computer screen. Instead of being stumped again and again, we might only pause momentarily, to reframe our mindset, before continuing because writing should not be some enigma that we cannot understand or grab a hold of. Instead, writing is simply a tool and our words can now flow forth without being blocked or chased around our brain.
About Writer’s Block
Although I do believe there are things that can keep us from writing fluidly, like fear of failure or success or from being intimidated by rules and how-to recommendations, I don’t believe a whole lot in writer’s block. If the words don’t come for me, it’s more than likely because I really need to be doing something else. And my mind knows this. I’ve been writing for over fifty years including class assignments as simple as spelling tests to complex research papers; writing for fun – the kind of poems and essays which a person never thinks will ever get published and if they are we’ll simply die; and writing for publication from poems to articles to a book. So, I have found that if the muse isn’t writing, there is usually a reason for the writing well being dry.
What works to clear this “writer’s block?” For me, anything goes. It could be a nice walk just to stretch my shoulders and get a break from a certain writing project. It could be chores which help me relax and to feel as though I’m being productive in areas that need my attention. Or it could be a workout – anything from yoga to interval training to a power walk or a jog. And it could even be a nap – sleep is so important to the brain and for creativity of any kind.
I often hear, so what do you write about? Or what kind of writing do you do? And, lately, I’m reading about how serious or professional writers should focus on only one or two topics. Now, I’m sure “serious” is in reference to if a person is not just daydreaming about writing. Because if you are a writer, you are a writer. If you love to write, you are a writer. If you hate to write, but write anyway, you are a writer. Whether you write for self-expression, a profession, or publication of any kind, you are a writer. From that moment of writing for anything, forward can then be broken down into categories depending on what type of writing a person does, where they are on their writing journey, and where they hope to take their writing.
As for content, the most important thing that matters is that you love to write what you are writing about. Nothing else should matter as much. Not style. Not grammatical rules (although that helps tremendously when it comes to publication). Not handwritten or typed content. All that matters is that you enjoy what you are writing about. So, if you are writing about your least favorite subject, you either have to embrace it and get excited about it or choose a different topic. Once you determine the what and how, or content focus, you can then work on fine-tuning it; but until then, loving to write about your subject or content is key to success.
Writing is to Communicate
There are so many things to help anyone be a better writer – from prompts to courses to fancy pens or other devices. But just keep in mind…first, every person is a writer. No matter what language, age, learning ability or disability, we are all writers. This is because writing comes after communication (and, if you don’t believe it, just refer to the dictionary). From the time we are born, we are learning to understand others. First, as infants and toddlers, we use some form of sign language. Then, we learn words. And soon we learn to write to communicate – whether it is before preschool or not until first grade like myself.
To say that we have to be an expert writer to be a professional or published writer is to say we have to consider getting a Masters in writing. We could that, and I know some who have. But that’s to teach writing in a higher learning institute. If you love the act of writing that much, then I encourage you to check into it. However, if you are simply writing to express yourself, to share ideas with the world, or possibly even write about your family’s history or your favorite subject, or even write and publish a book, my suggestion is to…write. It’s that simple. Write because you love to write. Write because you love your subject. Or write because you want to take writing to the next level in your life.
Put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and get your thoughts, ideas, and feelings out of your mind and heart and into the world. You will have good (successful) days, and you’ll have bad (poor or not so successful) days. But the point is when you start to wrap your mind around the idea that writing is a tool and words are where the magic is, then you will have more success. Your words will pour forth, and your sentences will flow, and your paragraphs will multiply. The thought of writing won’t be so overwhelming or intimidating.
If you love to write, or express yourself through writing, never give up. Just as those who use paint on canvas or creative music to communicate, you can use words and writing to put your fingerprint on and melody out into the world. You can have less “writer’s block.” You can write that essay or poem or book. You can write about your favorite subjects. You can handwrite or type or even dictate and then retype. However you choose to express yourself through writing, I hope you will remember that the magic is in your words and that writing is just a tool to get you from start to finish. Leave the editing and rules for later. For now, just write.
Note: Next week, I will blog about “Writing – Before & After.” I will reference my books and articles, however, most of what I share can be used to help with any writing project.
And I will also announce my writing topic for the month of May. So stayed tuned….
And remember to check out my first book, if you haven’t already….here’s the link to my webpage with more information.