Not too long ago I started using yWriter5, a software program specifically designed for writing novels. I was willing to try anything to help pull the pieces of my story together and motivate me to keep going. While yWriter has done wonderful things to help with the story’s organization, it does not motivate me in the way I hoped it would. Back in the beginning of the writing process, I had this relentless drive to keep working at the book. When I finished the rough draft and learned how much more work it would take to transform my not so great rough draft into a terrific story, that drive evaporated. For months I’ve been stuck mid-rewrite after making major changes to the beginning half.
I’m suffering from a perfection complex. Every word written has must be weighed and measured to be sure that it’s [shudder] perfect. There is no such thing as perfection in writing! We can only make our work as vivid as the limits of our imagination. In the drafting phase, seeking ‘perfection’ is a sure-fire way to get stuck and frustrated. Instead of working through it, I find myself looking for other things that need to get done around the house.
Staring at a white computer screen doesn’t help the writing flow either. No new software program is going to take that aspect of writing away. When that realization finally clicked I had a radical idea. Why look at the screen at all? It’s not like it’s needed in the drafting phase where the story spills out of your brain and on the page. The last few days I’ve done just that, writing without looking. I retreat into my brain, stare off into space, and start visualizing the scene and the characters letting it all spill out through my fingers in a big wordy puddle. Only later when the scene has rested in my mind do I dare return to edit and clean it up.
Some use a voice recorder to create the same big wordy puddle. I’ve tried using one before and found that I’m too self-conscious to speak my story aloud, especially in this drafting phase. Even if I was comfortable recording my thoughts I’m never alone in a quiet place to do it.
This new approach to getting my thoughts out of my head and on the screen has been liberating. I will not be daunted by that cursed white screen anymore!