Ever feel like you just can’t write? That you’re all out of ideas?
Here are two practices that can help ease you back into writing from Being a Writer, a book I bought on Half Price Book’s Dollar Clearance shelves. Dorothea Brande penned this book in 1934, but I’m certain once I share this—you’ll agree, her advice applies to writers today.
1. Write early in the morning when you first wake up, and don’t evaluate what you write. Let the words be good just for existing. Simply write.
You are training yourself to enjoy writing, so be careful not to judge the words or yourself during this practice. Go so far as to “keep the material you have written—under lock and key if that is the only way to save yourself from self-consciousness” (Brande 1981 74).
“What you are actually doing is training yourself, in the twilight zone between sleep and the full walking state, simply to write…After a day or two you’ll find that there is a certain number of words that you can write easily” (Brande 1981 73-4).
Great! Keep going. You’ll probably also find that writing at other times in the day is easier.
This practice helps to get you out of a writing funk and recharge. “Whenever you are in danger of the spiritual drought that comes to the most facile writer from time to time… wake to write in the morning” (Brande 1981 74).
2. The next recommended practice is to commit yourself to writing something every day. Set a specific time each day when you can devote to working on your article, story, or memoir—whatever writing speaks to you.
Write, “anything at all. Write sense or nonsense, limericks or blank verse; write what you think of your employer or your secretary or your teacher; write a short story synopsis or a fragment of dialogue or the description of someone you’ve recently noticed. However halting or perfunctory the writing is, write” (1981 77).
Don’t let yourself get distracted. You’ve made a commitment to write, so you must follow through for this practice to work. In Brande’s words, “You’ve decided to write, and you must write…No excuses can be given” (1981 77).
Why is this follow through so important?
Brande says, “There is a deep inner resistance to writing, which is likely to emerge at this point. The unconscious does not like these rules and regulations unit it is well broken into them… but if you learn to disregard every loophole the wily unconscious points out to you… you will have your reward. The unconscious will suddenly give in charmingly and begin to write gracefully and well “(1981 78-79).
Brande’s two practices have worked for me. I regularly return to them when I’m feeling down about writing. Try them and let me know.
I hope to hear you’re piling up words, paragraphs, pages, and chapters, and that you feel better about your whole writing process.
If you’d like to learn about famous authors who write in the morning,click here.
Brande, Dorothea. Becoming a Writer. Tarcher/Putnam, 1981.