Creative Writing Tips - The Importance of Self-Trust
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Has this ever happened to you?
A few minutes after you start writing, you pause to reread what you've written. You adjust something here, polish something there, delete a sentence. Suddenly, you find it hard to start writing again. You've lost the flow.
It's normally better not to try to edit yourself as you're writing your first draft. Creating and editing use different parts of the brain. If you try to do both at once, you end up getting in your own way.
It's as if the creative part of your brain feels the mental editor watching over its shoulder. It starts to feel self-conscious, freezes up.
So the best practice for most writers is to write and edit in separate stages. First, let your ideas flow freely onto the page. Then, when you've finished a draft, you can go back and improve it.
But why is this so hard for some writers to do? Why the constant temptation to go back and reread what you've written -- and when you do, why is there such powerful urge to tweak this and adjust that, until you find yourself in full editing mode?
I think the answer has to do with fear.
You might be afraid that what you're writing isn't good enough, so you go back to check. And if you see a problem or a flaw or messiness of any kind, it makes you anxious, and you feel the need to fix it RIGHT NOW. It's as if you don't trust yourself to go back and fix it later.
This is the solution to the problem, the solution to many kinds of writer's block: trust yourself.
- Trust your imagination to lead you somewhere interesting.
- Trust that if you don't like what you've written, you can make it better, or write something else that you'll like better.
- If you make a mess in your rough draft (which is normal and good), trust yourself to clean it up later.
- Trust that if you really want to be a writer, you'll keep working at it until you reach your goal.
And if you can’t stop yourself from going back to edit, try this trick. Use yellow font to type your rough draft, which makes it harder to reread as you’re writing -- then change the font to black when it’s time to revise.
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