Creating something out of nothing is the most intimidating step in the writing process. No one wants to get into a staring contest with a blank page — a scary prospect.
But overcoming the fear of a blank page is easier than you think and doesn't require a literary shrink. By getting in sync with your creative clock and finding the best time to write, you can squeeze in 100 words a day.
When Is the Best Time To Win A Staring Contest With A Blank Page?
A recent study found that people are more creative in the morning when their thoughts run free, shortly after waking up from a night's sleep.
Before your brain adjusts to the daily grind, sit down at the computer and open a Word document; resist the urge to read emails or watch cat videos on YouTube. Set a timer for ten minutes and start typing as if you're on autopilot, even if you don't have anything to write about.
But how do you write if you're blanking out on a page? — By utilizing the medicinal effects of freestyle writing — writing whatever comes to mind without stopping to edit. In other words, writing a bad first draft.
Freestyle Writing Therapy For Solitary Types
Start writing anything that pops into your head, like onions. (I still taste them from last night.) ONIONS smell bad, taste strong, and are good with chicken, but my fingers smell bad when I cut them up.
Keep typing until the timer beeps, then stop, and be amazed. Goodbye blank page. Hello 100 words. You might end up with several paragraphs of nonsense, but amid the gaggle of free-range words, you'll probably find a sentence or two to work with.
You should feel a sense of accomplishment. Treat yourself to a cup of coffee and relax for a few minutes before your brain kicks into workday mode.
Writing Away From The Keyboard
During your crazy, deadline-centric day, there's always time to write a sentence or two. Keep a pad by your computer. Between tasks, if you get an idea, write it down. When you take a bathroom break, bring a pen and paper with you.
If you take a walk during lunch, turn on the voice memo app on your phone and talk through an idea, or have a conversation with yourself. Keep the flow going. Rattling words around in your head while you're away from the computer helps flesh out ideas.
I do some of my best writing when I'm emptying the dishwasher.
If you write in the morning and squeeze in a sentence or two during the day, you'll have enough material to work with for an evening edit.
Editing In The Evening Before Falling Asleep In Your Soup
Just as morning is the best time to write a draft, late day or evening is the best time for editing it. Though, after working all day, I suggest taking a thirty-minute nap to get your brain back before heading for the computer.
When you feel rested, open the document you created in the morning and start revising it. If you reach a point where your brain feels like cotton candy, stop, and put the document aside for an hour or another day.
Write Better For Business Sake
It's not easy to fit writing into the daily grind, but it's possible. Every time you put words on the page, you're making progress. With practice, you can improve your writing a little each day and become more comfortable with the writing process.
If you get frustrated, walk away. Pamper your brain. Don't torture it.
If you set aside time to write everyday, you'll soon find that you're writing better, and smarter, too.
Happy writing! When do you find time to write?
About the Author:
Lauren Salkin lives in Connecticut with her husband, son and two wily mutts. Her essays have appeared in various newspapers as well as on The Huffington Post, Sammiches Psych Meds, ByLine Magazine, Front Porch Syndicate, MomBloggersClub.com, BlazingMinds.co.uk and InspireToThrive.com. Her noir short story “Priming Pamela” was published in Shroud Magazine. Lauren writes humor at her blog Think Spin.