“Write with abandon,” a poster states.
“Write without looking at the screen,” suggests a writing coach.
“Turn off your internal editor.”
“Just sit the butt in the chair and get the words on the page.”
I could go on and on with tips about writing. I’ve even used some of them in teaching and talking about writing.
the words are great to say, but are extremely hard to follow.
WRITE WITH ABANDON
As a teenager, I rarely felt comfortable writing with abandon. I was afraid that my mother might read what I wrote. I was afraid that I might hurt or offend someone with something I put on paper. I was afraid that whoever might read the piece would come to the wrong conclusion about me.
instead of writing with abandon, I learned to censor my writing. I censored my writing to a fault.
When I went to college, I still censored myself for the same reasons. I kept volumes of notebooks, but every word had been written after careful thought.
After I got married to the guy I dated in high school, I figured I could stop censoring myself. My two reasons? He would respect my writing books enough to not read them, AND if he did read them, he would realize that I am a writer and would ask me about what was written.
I WAS WRONG.
Because my kids were young and curious, I sometimes coded my words so the kids didn’t know what I was talking about. BUT after my husband was having an affair and walked out, he claimed that one of the reasons for his actions was that I had read in my writing that I didn’t love him anymore. I was shocked. I had never written that, never thought that. I asked him to show me what I had written and he didn’t know where he had put it. BALDERDASH!
Anyway, enough of the rant. I am now married to a man who is also a writer and understands me as a writer.
After 40 years of self-censorship, however, is a hard habit to break. I find it easier to let my darker sides surface when I turn the timer on to 10 – 20 minutes and write to a prompt. When I was teaching high school creative writing, I started the class out with 10 minutes of silent writing to a given prompt. I wrote right along with my students. Sometimes when the timer went off, I was shocked at what I had written on the page.
WRITE WITHOUT LOOKING AT THE SCREEN
Writing without looking at the screen is supposed to let you turn off your internal editor. Let me stress, “supposed to.” For some people, it creates more stress, especially if you are a hunt and peck typist.
For me, writing without looking at the screen is a challenge.
As a piano player, I learned early in my lessons that one does not look at the keyboard of the piano. Instead, you are to focus on the music on the page in front of you. You learn to feel your place on the keyboard.
When I was in junior high school, I took a typing class. On each desk sat a manual typewriter, but the letters were missing from the keys.
Your eyes were to focus on the typing textbook on the stand to the left of your typewriter. You learned, once again, to feel your place on the keyboard.
Have you ever noticed that the keys for the “J” and the “F” have a raised bump or line? It is the tactile indicator that you have your hands placed in the correct place on the keyboard in order to type correctly.
I used to drive my high school students nuts because I could look directly at them and still type whatever I was working on: letter to a parent, documentation of behavior, or a referral.
So, when I look at the screen and typing, I am usually reading along with what I am typing. Grr.
TURN OFF YOUR INNER EDITOR
Teaching high school English and creative writing earned me the title, by some, as the grammar police. My mother even found me a pen that had grammar police stenciled on the side.
Although I don’t correct everything as I type, I do find that there are some things I correct as I am typing. I’ve tried. I’ve really tried to silence that editor, but she won’t listen. I silently correct people as they speak as well, so it shouldn’t surprise me that I have difficulty silencing her when I write.
BUTT IN CHAIR = WORDS ON PAGE
This is where “My 500 Words” has been really helping me. I have actually been sitting down this week, if you can’t tell by the increased number of posts, and getting words down on the page / screen.
True, these words are blogging words and not words on my novel, but it is getting me back into the habit of writing each and every day. I realize now how much writing defines my day and who I am. I really do have to write, and I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything if I haven’t written something.
Thanks for reading,
share some of your tips to getting yourself writing in the comments.