all you closet writers reading this, are you like me? does your critical voice take over? oh, i gotta fix that misspelling right this second or the world will end. is that verb tense correct? is this sentence flowing correctly? am i making sense?
that’s the critical voice. the critical voice can be a burden and an enemy. the critical voice does a wonderful job of breaking the flow of the thought process. the break in the flow can get in the way of getting thoughts down on paper, or if you are like me the bytes to the screen. if the worry goes to correcting something, perhaps that fleeting thought will “fleet” away, never to return.
what if i could show you a way to turn off your critical voice while you mashed on the keyboard. now how much would you pay?? don’t worry, i won’t charge you a red cent for this wonderful idea, and it’s a money saver, too! what more could you ask for?
turn the screen off. that’s right, for the first draft, turn the screen off. fade to black. don’t worry about what you are typing. i imagine the first time you do it your critical voice will be freaking out like the first time i tried it. your critical voice will revolt. it’ll throw a fit. it’ll tell you this is all wrong. don’t listen to it; it’s a liar. the world will not end.
“if I do that, there is no chance i’ll get everything right on the first pass”, my inner critic will say. let me be truthful; i have never got it right on the first pass. that’s the perfectionistic mindset coming into play and i somehow think perfection will come out of my keyboard the very first time. let me tell you, in ain’t gu–nuh happen. ever. heck, most of the time it still isn’t right on my fifth pass.
don’t worry, this is only a first draft. after getting the train of thought out, if the box car looks better in front of the tanker, switch it around. who said the caboose had to come at the end? some stodgy old english professor’ i’m sure. my uncle, a english professor by trade, told me sometimes rules are made to be broken.
and you know what? when you get done with the first draft, all the misspellings will still be there, waiting to be corrected. got a misspelling? fix it. verb tense wrong? fix it. bad flow? fix it. not making sense? fix it. it’ll okay. you’ll have the opportunity to fix problems before hitting the publish button.
so, my challenge to you: on your next first draft, turn off the screen. let the thoughts flow. turn off the inner critic. give it a try. and when you do, make sure to comment about your success or failure.
Hemingway said that he used a pencil and paper first so that he could fiddle with it again and then again when he typed it up. Good advice which I don’t take but it does work. at least it does for me.
obviously hemingway lived in a different time. i have no doubt writing to paper is one way to get a free flow of thoughts. i went to a talk the other evening an the presenter went so far to say in order to get a true free flow of thoughts, don’t even raise the pen from the paper, not even to cross a t or dot an i.
writing to paper would be a waste of time to me. first, i don’t write, meaning the mechanical process, very fast. i have long history of dropping half sentences as i write because my mind races ahead of my hand. secondly, i don’t type very fast. i’m a hunt -n- peck-er. so then, there is the further waste of time getting my thought from paper to computer.
I struggle with people in general dictating that writing has to be done in a certain way. an artist using water color isn’t going to tell a sculptor that they are doing their art all wrong. they are both valid forms of art. likely initially typing is just as valid a form of writing as pen/pencil to paper. i say, use what ever form of writing works for you. mine is using the keyboard.