Writing Secrets: Keep staring at the screen

 In Tips for Writers

Stare at the screen. That’s my advice for the week.

I know, holidays are over, we’re all back at work and now we’re faced with the reality of those good intentions. And … your mind is blank. You can’t even think of the word for … writing with ease and putting things across clearly? Oh yes, eloquence.

The easiest thing would be not to put yourself through that agony. Why should you? Nothing’s coming and you’re clearly not going to write anything of any worth.

Except that, the longer you leave it, the harder it will be. You will begin to dread sitting down to that now familiar cloud which blocks your creative vision.

So here’s my secret: keep staring at the empty screen. Don’t allow yourself to rise, except perhaps to make a cup of tea. But only one.

Write a word, perhaps two. You will be dragging them from a morass, but keep dragging. After a while, three might trickle forth.

If you keep staring at the screen and forcing the words out, one at a time, they will begin to flow. And when you come back later and assess your writing, you’ll see no difference between that and the writing which flowed so fluently. In fact, it may even be slightly better.

Part of what blanks the mind is fear. Face your fear by staring at that screen.

Set your writing times for the week. Don’t wait for inspiration. You’ll be ninety-four and the inspiration will finally strike … but you won’t remember what it was for.

Ring-fence your writing time. Don’t allow anything to intrude on it. Don’t ever allow yourself to think: oh hell, I didn’t finish doing my tax. I’ll use …

No, and don’t let anyone else encroach on it either. If you tell people you’ll be writing, they’ll think: Oh yay, she’s not working. I’ll surprise her by turning up for a coffee. Lie if necessary. Tell them you have this massive deadline and won’t be able to pay your rent unless you work Saturday morning.

Lying is such good practice, anyway. You can feel virtuous about it. It’s an excellent way of developing your imagination.

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