What is it about that blank piece of paper that is so daunting? The whiteness that dares you to transform it into something of significance. You tap, tap, tap a few words and delete. Tap and delete. The creative valve closes and you succumb to Writer’s Block.
Don’t worry. You’re not alone and there is an easier, more fulfilling and productive way to write. The daunting feeling is your gut telling you that there’s a misunderstanding.
Writing is not a one-step, linear process. In the most basic sense, there are two stages: WRITING and EDITING. WRITING employs raw, imaginative energy that doesn’t care about making sense or about the rules of grammar. It certainly doesn’t care about the critics. It’s all about going with the flow.
EDITING calls upon the organizer, the rule governor and the strategist in you. To oversimplify, WRITING comes from the creative RIGHT brain while EDITING relies on the more analytical and orderly LEFT brain.
For a moment, think of the art of writing in terms of sculpting clay. Let’s assume that you’re starting from scratch.
Stage One: Gather the clay ingredients, mix them and place the raw clay onto a clean surface.
What do you have at this point? A big blob of clay. Nothing of significance…yet. But there is great potential.
It’s the same with writing. The WRITING stage is deeply creative. It may not have any order or sequence to it. You figuratively spill out all that is in your heart, mind and soul about the topic to create your “writing clay”.
Yes, Stage One is messy. No, you probably wouldn’t publish it in its rough and unformed state. So, you go on to Stage Two.
Stage Two: Back to the clay sculpting image. At this stage, the sculptor shapes and manipulates the clay with the tools in his or her toolbox according to a particular style or vision – or maybe just by “feeling it out”.
And so it goes for the EDITING stage. You shape the “writing clay” by moving it around, reorganizing, rewording, scrapping some paragraphs and adding others. You play with the flow. Maybe take the middle paragraph and see how it reads as the opening paragraph.
Imagine what would happen if you combined Stage One and Stage Two while sculpting. If you tried to sculpt the ingredients before they were mixed. If you stared at the clean (blank) surface and tried to make something happen without placing the raw clay on it.
Not much progress. And a lot of confusion.
And the same goes when you combine Stage One and Stage Two while writing. It’s where Writer’s Block lurks. Your brain comes to a stand still. It’s a draw. No winners. Only self-doubt and suffering.
So what about the blank piece of paper? I look at it as the clean surface for the clay. That’s all.
Give the two-stage approach a shot and let me know how it goes. For me, it’s made all the difference.