April 6, 2013 by KWills
As soon as I start to type, I start to second-guess myself. I go back and correct mistakes, then I sit, frozen, unable to think of what to write. I tried using a voice-recorder to get around the problem, but as soon as I hit that little “Rec” button, I had the same problem. Only worse because I couldn’t go back and fix the mistakes! When working on a novel I usually have an outline, so I don’t go all “deer in the headlights” too often. However, when attempting to brainstorm a task, I am hopeless.
To develop this skill, I tried signing up to 750words.com. I had some success, but I soon found myself so focused on meeting the word-count goal that I was freezing up again. I started to treat it as time to work on my novel, and although that was good, it didn’t do anything for my freezing-up problem.
Then I found out about freewriting. Instead of aiming for a word count, I set a timer and forced myself to type steadily for five minutes. No pauses, no back-tracking. At the end of the time, go back and see if there’s anything worth developing further. Copy those words to a saved document, then delete the original. It was surprisingly effective.
I haven’t mastered a daily routine yet, but I try to include a few freewriting sessions every week, especially when I hit a block in my novel. Even if I just type “I don’t know what to say” over and over, I am still typing. I find “Write or Die” to be a good tool here, with the focus on non-stop typing. Often there will be whole sessions with nothing worth saving, but at other times I will find a half-dozen nuggets in a single passage.
Have you tried freewriting? Does it work for you? What other ways have you found for getting past writing road-blocks?