If you want to be a writer, stop worrying about writing well. Instead, write now.

Earlier this week, I was blocked. I tweeted my friend Andrea Cumbo, “I have low creative confidence right now. I’ve forgotten how to write fiction.” There was guilt associated with that statement. I thought, You’ve forgotten how to write fiction, and yet you write a blog about writing? What a hypocrite.

Write Now

Photo by Rennet Snow

 

So guilt tripped into action, I sat down and wrote a few sentences.

They were bad. Really bad. I almost threw up in my mouth they were so bad.

But still, I wrote a little more and when I felt I had been through enough torture, I stopped, satisfied I had written something at least. I didn’t write well, but I wrote.

A Mantra for Blocked Writers

Common sense tells us that if we can only write the the perfect sentence, the perfect story, the perfect novel, we’ll succeed at this writing thing. The agent will come, the publishing contract will follow, and why not a bestseller as the cherry on top.

However, the surprising truth is that the best strategy for actually writing that perfect novel is to write piles and piles of crap. Quantity beats quality. It’s better to write ten bad sentences than spend the same amount of time trying to write that perfect one.

The myth of perfection freezes you. You end up getting nothing done.

So instead of trying to write well, write now.

Let that be your mantra.

When you get blocked trying to write that perfect sentence:

Don’t write well. Write now (you might want to tweet that).

When you can’t get the scene to work like you wanted:

Don’t write well. Write now.

When the weight of your dreams of a perfection become a burden:

Don’t write well. Write now.

When you’re so tired you can’t imagine writing well:

Don’t write well. Write now.

A Happy Ending

Even though I was blocked, I went to bed having written something. Then, as I was trying to go to sleep, a scene slapped me in the face. I got up and wrote for thirty minutes. It wasn’t amazing, but it was a good start. The next day, I wrote for two hours. The day after that, three hours.

I’m starting to write well again. But it never would have happened if I didn’t start by writing now.

PRACTICE

Write now.

Write about whatever you want (your work in progress or an idea for a new story or a memory from your day).

For fifteen minutes, try to write as many words as you can. Focus on quantity, not quality. Post your practice in the comments section when you’re finished.

Happy writing!

Joe Bunting
Joe Bunting
Joe Bunting is a writer and entrepreneur. He is the author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller Let's Write a Short Story! and the co-founder of Story Cartel. You can follow him on Twitter (@joebunting).