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When You Don't Know What To Write

Write something!

Every writer I've ever talked to has times, at least occasionally, when they simply don't know what to write next. Sometimes the block comes in the middle of an assignment or project; sometimes it happens at the beginning. Sometimes you won’t have a clue why you’re having problems, and sometimes you’ll know the cause precisely.

A Writing Schedule Helps

For example, when I was writing for about.com, I  usually wrote my columns on Wednesday morning. One particular Wednesday I sat in front of a blank word file for several minutes, not having a clue what I wanted to write about. I know exactly why. I’ve got another project that is, frankly, way more exciting than another column about writing and I want to get started. But I needed to get this done first. So I got up and paced a bit and realized that what was happening to me happened to other writers, so I sat down and started to write about that experience

For me, starting is the key.

If I stew and storm and take a nap, nothing will happen except the deadline pressure will build. On the other hand, if I actually put some words on paper, chances are I’ll be able to continue.

Writing Experience Equals Self-Trust

Now, I’ve been writing for years, and today I totally trust my process. It wasn’t always like this. Back when I was just starting my writing career, starting any writing project was likely to be agony. Maybe I’d get a few words written and then I’d stop, erase them and start again. I’d repeat this process over and over again.

Fortunately I got enough work done and published that I was actually offered an editing job for a church magazine. Suddenly I was in a position to see the writing of others. What a blessing!

It wasn’t long before I recognized that the articles submitted by beginning writers often needed the first two or three paragraphs lopped off. I asked an experienced writer about this and he said, “Oh I write those beginning ‘graphs too; I just have enough experience to erase them before I send in the article. I have to warm up as it were before the real stuff starts to flow.”

What a lesson! Just write and don’t worry too much about how the first few sentences or paragraphs. Chances are they will have to be eliminated, but they have served as the pathway to get your creative juices flowing.

Write, and write some more. Write until you’ve exhausted either the topic or yourself. Then, let the editing begin. Polish, prune, clarify, and reorganize until the piece is as good as you can make it. Submit it, and get on with the next work.

Write well and often.



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Email Anne: Anne@AboutFreelanceWriting.com

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