This post was originally posted on Medium.com by Sean P. Durham
When you read online pages dedicated to writer’s help, you will always come across a glut of questions from newbie writers who claim to have writer’s block. It seems to me that there is a large group of wanna-be writers out there who are determined that the dreaded writer’s block is actually a real thing, like a sickness that a doctor could cure. It isn’t, and you shouldn’t allow yourself to be owned by the fallacy of it.
When I wake up in the morning I want to write. Sometimes I don’t know what I should write, so instead of dreaming and pondering what could be a good idea, I pull up a chair, sit down and start to write anything. Yes, really anything.
Here’s something that psychologists do know about writing. The thought processes that we go through when we write are different from our everyday thinking methods. They are more efficient and focused.
We forget all the other things that were bothering us a few minutes earlier, and focus totally on what we are doing. I know this because I prove it to myself each day. I sit down, with coffee and a pen and paper and write — I don’t even have time to wait for my computer to fire up, that just adds to the annoying tension of waiting, blocking, and dithering before I write.
I write the first thing that comes into my mind, which will mostly be a point of focus that is always important to me in my daily life. Because of my constant attempts at keeping my mind focused on productive things in life, I tend to wake up in the morning with an idea that is doable. Like a list of ideas about ideas.
That’s writing, and it’s extremely useful. Writing a list to yourself, free form, no holding back to control what goes on the list, reveals a ton of thoughts that only surface when you are in writing mode.
Like I said, when you are writing things on paper, or on the screen, your mind is working differently from every day thinking. That’s why you will have thoughts pop up, that you jot down in the list, thoughts that you didn’t know where there, lurking in the morning steam above your coffee.
Thinking about writing is not writing, and it doesn’t belong in anybody’s category of ideas about writing technique. Most productive writers will tell you that to sit and think about it too long, leads to a meandering mess of thoughts that are no good to a writer. Writers write words down and finish the thought, they capture thoughts on paper and keep them for their readers to read.
Your thinking is an action packed idea generator that runs like a motor. The hands are recording those thoughts, and when it’s just a list of spontaneous ideas that occur to you after waking, before bed, or in the middle of the day, that list will become meaningful enough to you to reveal a single idea that is very important.
List writing, ten objects, ideas or short sharp sentences, will show you something about what you find important.
When that one important, magnetic thought pops up, it will grab you firmly by the feelings and motivate you to write, flesh out and investigate the idea until you have written something you are proud of.
Try it, and find out. Writer’s block is a game the mind plays, it’s avoidance of becoming involved in a challenge. The actual act of writing overcomes the problem.