I am staring a blank piece of paper, a million ideas swimming in my mind, and none of them is good enough. The pen is not moving, and I have no idea what to do next…
That is how every writing exercise seems to begin for me. Then I get distracted by email or facebook and then never write a darned thing. That was, until my favorite writer pointed out the brilliantly obvious point that writing is a lot like product design! You can’t edit at the same time as you create. You have to turn off that critic – that darned left brain!
Pick up the pen, the keyboard, or dictate into the microphone and just let it go. There is no good or bad, no one will ever see this. Whatever comes to mind, let it come out of you. So that you can get to the good stuff. In design, I call this the ‘puke’ phase. After all, when was the last time that the first idea you wrote down was the best one? Or even the third or fourth? This puke time is dedicated to clearing out all the ideas so that we can move on to the good stuff.
So, what exactly do I do? Just start writing, even if it is gibberish. Write as long and quickly as you can. Start anywhere, from breakfast that day to your childhood to the latest conversation with a co-worker. Sure, maybe everything won’t hold together perfectly. But you shouldn’t know that. You will be too busy writing to see that everything is crap. Besides, you won’t know exactly what you meant to write until well after you are done writing, you need at least a few hundred words on the page before the first decent sentence emerges.
Just accept it. I am trying to. This is just part of the way things work. While we are all delicate, individual snowflakes, we are all still basically the same. 99% of what you write will be deleted or at least re-written. Don’t be attached, don’t even really think about it, just get it out of your head. If you can do that, then the good news is that you will be another 1000 words ahead of everyone else!