I hate looking at my screen while I type. It’s so weird to say (or in this case type out) but I feel like I slow down tremendously when I look at the screen. So what I’ll do to speed up the process is I’ll look away from the screen. And when I say that I’ll look away from the screen, what I really mean is that I’ll put my head down on the desk and close my eyes. It’s weird I know. But for some reason, the ideas and words are able to freely flow from my brain to my fingertips this way.
In fact, let’s do a quick assessment of looking versus not looking at the screen. I’ll type all the letters in the alphabet and time myself. Alright, let’s do this.
Looking at the screen:
The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. 0 mistakes, 6.94 seconds.
The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog 1 mistake, 5.84 seconds. (I forgot the period.)
The thing is that I don’t mind making a few more mistakes if it means it feels easier to be typing things out. It’ is like I can circumnavigate that micro-block going on in my head if I just don’t look at the screen. I mean, I’m supposed to edit my work after I’ve typed it out anyways right? First Year College students look on in shock at the idea of actually editing their writing.
But then that gets into that thing we always hear about: Writer’s Block. Soooo many times I’ll read a Medium article, or a podcast saying “Writer’s Block isn’t real! It’s Writer’s fearrrrrr.” Because that’s totally different and you aren’t just being a pedantic little contrarian chasing a headline. Let’s be real here people, writer’s block is one hundred percent a real thing. 100%.
Saying that something that blocks your progress in writing a piece isn’t writer’s block would be like saying somebody tipping a shot in basketball isn’t a block because it’s only deflected that shot.
Clearly, that isn’t a blocked shot, if it was a blocked shot he’d have been using a shooting motion, not going for a layup. (Why yes layups are shots and I’m being pedantic.)
Writers’ block is a real thing, and it’s important to admit that we get blocked by our own minds. Sometimes it’s just looking at the words that send you into a tizzy and you can’t write a damn thing to save your life. Other times it could be that you just can’t get into that writing state of mind. Or maybe you wrote something that bothers you. Or you’re bothered by something you read earlier today. Or whatever. Because, a lot of the time, you’re really just scared of what you’re writing.
Quit being scared of writing. (Gee thanks, I’m cured.)
See, that’s what happens to a lot of people who say that they “aren’t writers”: they’re really scared about writing. And that happens to people who enjoy writing as well. I have to look up, around, down, wherever the words ain’t. Then I’ll look back at what I just wrote. And that works for me.
Find out how you can beat your fear of writing. Most people I tutored in writing were afraid of the beginning, middle, and end. And that’s not a shot at them, it just means they didn’t know where to start, where to go, and how to finish. The process was terrifying. They knew they wanted to say something they just didn’t know how to say it. So I taught them the power of outlining their writing.
Then there were people who were afraid of sounding dumb. So I told them they needed to just write their stupid words down. Then we erased the stupid bits and put more smarterer words in the dumb places. And look at that, they’re writing machines now. Not saying those machines are gonna make the next War and Peace, but hey, they’re writing.
The hardest part about fighting your fear of writing is admitting what makes you afraid of writing. That requires honesty, and we as people suck at being honest with ourselves. Self-delusional gits. Grow the fuck up and have a heart-to-heart with yourself. It’s alright to be afraid. It’s not alright to let your fear control you like that. So just, be honest. Are you afraid that what you write isn’t very good? Are you traumatized by the memory of a particularly nasty book report? Maybe, you’re afraid that nobody cares about what you’ve got to say, and you put all that effort in for nothing? Okay, I might have been hardcore projecting on that one.
Because I am afraid. I’m afraid that my writing is nothing worth reading. I’m afraid that my attempts at humor wind up being cringey and annoying. But here I am, writing these words onto my own personal blog. I’m putting it all out there for people like you to read because if I don’t, I’ll let that fear swallow me hole. And fuck that.