The first step in the self-publishing process is to Write Your Story.
But, for the temporarily uninspired writer, this first "step" can seem more like a large and intimidating wall.
For a while, I was at a standstill, staring up at one such wall as I wondered, “Where did this thing come from? Why can’t I write?!”
It wasn’t that I ran out of ideas. The stories were there but to sit down and write them was an entirely different ballgame.
T his frustrating phase of starting stories without being able to finish them lasted for a few years…and then something awesome happened.
I’ve had a lot of part-time day jobs over the years and one of my jobs involved working as an interpreter/captionist for Deaf and hard of hearing university students.
One semester I found that I'd been assigned to a student who was scheduled to take a class called “ Professional Development for Plant Scientists (PLHL)”.
I’ll admit, the title of the course made me cringe- it sounded like the kind of class I’d need to take with a few extra shots of espresso.
Boy was I wrong!
That semester, I learned very little about plants, but I learned a valuable lesson about writing.
The Professor, an adorable and quirky sixty-something year old New Yorker with a jazz musician’s shuffle in his step, loved to season his lectures with delicious tidbits about how he learned to write well and his love of music.
I’ll never forget the day that Professor taught his class one very simple, yet profound, lesson on writing.
He said, ‘When you want to write, just write. Don't edit your work while you're writing. Writing and editing are two DIFFERENT steps. First write and then later you can return to your finished paper for editing.'
Pretty simple, right?
Yeah, laughably simple! Even so, it was huge deal for me!
I think I actually stopped captioning for a moment when he said that and just stared in shock.
This one statement was the bulldozer to my “wall”, the daunting blockade I’d been banging my head against for far too many years!
Despite being extremely goal oriented, an innate lack of confidence in my own abilities had been stunting my endurance as a writer.
With an amazing story unfolding in my head, I’d put on my Itzhak Perlman music and begin to type. As my fingers rhythmically fell across the keyboard I’d fall into the daydream that was so vividly alive in my imagination. But an hour or so into it, I’d feel the need to pause and reassess what I’d written. Going back over my words was like a vicious slap in the face, pulling me out of my daydream and forcing me to face a few pages of writing in which every flaw stood out.
Reviewing what I’d written and hating every word, it wasn’t long before I’d talk myself out of finishing the story.
I didn’t have endurance as a writer because I didn’t trust my own abilities.
But in that science class about plants, I learned that you’ve got to push aside your negativity, hush the perfectionist lurking within and simply write your story.
Editing comes later, writing comes first.
I can honestly say, I’ve never been so thankful for a science class!
What tips have helped you move past writer’s block?