Tapping a Pencil

Image by Rennett Stowe via Flickr

Confession: I’ve never experienced “Writer’s Block.” At least, not the way other writers have described it. Sure, I’ve had to grasp for the right words sometimes, but in the end, I’ve always pushed through and found something to say.

And, I think that’s been part of my problem with my WIP now.

In favor of getting the full scope of the storyline, I just scraped the top of the story, and didn’t really dig in and get to the meat of anything. For added whimsy, or perhaps because I was so sleep deprived I didn’t know what I was writing, I even threw in some scenes that I thought may work, but didn’t really fit in with the story as a whole. The result? I got a rough draft really fast, and a WIP that hardly makes sense to me now.

Forward motion is lauded during the rough draft stage, and of course I agree that rough drafts should be about unedited words spilled onto the page. While writing the rough draft of WIP1, I just wanted to go, go, go, and thought I was doing the right thing, because rough drafts are supposed to be done fast, right? Well, the caveat that I missed was that rough drafts also need to be coherent so that I can understand what it is I wanted to say when I come back to the project months later with fresh eyes.

I haven’t thought about what an advantage it is to just stop, reread my work, and gain insight into what the people in my story will do next and why. I didn’t get the chance to really know the characters, know their motivation, and really, the Story in the WIP. I raced so much toward The End, that I didn’t allow myself to appreciate being stuck, and really think about a scene and explore it. If I had, I may have more of a story to work with now.

Some food for thought:

In the first moment people get stuck they get scared. Inexperienced writers fear being stuck means they’ve done something wrong. I know the opposite is true. This is where the real work begins. When you’re stuck, you’re forced to think and thinking is good. Thinking is the entire point to the enterprise of writing. To think and feel and, through writing, express those thoughts and feelings to others. You’re being forced to reconsider what you’re doing and good writing demands consideration.

Scott Berkun

Please visit the full blog post, “How to write 1000 words” here and also, watch a five-minute video of his writing process here.