How to Write When You Don’t Feel Like it

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Today's guest post is written by Blake Powell. Blake helps writers embrace their gifts and move past the stumbling blocks preventing them from starting. You can download his book, The Bulletproof Writer’s Handbook, here.

You’re sitting at your desk and the words won’t come.

Frustrating, isn’t it?

It can feel impossible to fill the blank page when the inspiration isn’t there.

write when you don't feel like it

How to Embrace Imperfection as a Writer

As a writer, it’s easy to fixate on your mistakes, like a poor first draft or your inability to find that perfect word when you need it most.

Fortunately, the solution to your writer’s block is easy—you just need to go for a walk in your pajamas. Let me explain.

Stop Trying To Be Perfect

In his book How To Be An Imperfectionist, Stephen Guise reminds us that perfectionism is an unhelpful trait because it leads to doubt, rumination, and an unwillingness to escape our comfort zones. He argues that instead of trying to be perfect all the time, we should always strive to do imperfect things to avoid getting tripped up over our mistakes.

One night recently, I knew I really needed to go for a walk, but I found too many things blocking my path. I was in my pajamas, I hadn’t showered, and what would people think of me—I knew the longer I thought about these things the less likely I would go.

So instead of waiting for my brain to knock me into submission, I walked out the door, pajamas and all. It worked because it got me to do something I knew I should do but could easily overthink myself into “not-doing.”

Just Start Writing

If we don’t do something out of a fear of rejection, we’ll always fail because we’ll never take the first steps towards growing as a writer. 

As Sheryl Sandberg says, “Done is better than perfect.” Stop trying to make your writing exactly how you imagined it to be and just get it done—because in the end, there is no such thing as “perfect” (and even if such a thing exists, it would be nigh impossible to reach).

I used this process of imperfection to write a novel, and write on days when I didn’t feel like doing anything at all because it works—and I believe it can work for you too.

So, embrace your inner-imperfectionist. You might just find that your writing will benefit immensely, and feel more real and raw than ever before.

Even if it’s truly terrible, you can always come back and fix it later, piece by broken piece.

Do you ever struggle to write because of a desire to be perfect? Let us know in the comments.

PRACTICE

Pull up your favorite word processor, and get ready to write imperfectly!

Set a timer for fifteen minutes and just write—write past the doubts and the guilt and the shame, and write past the regret. Write whatever comes to mind, and don’t stop to think about why you’re doing this exercise or what you’re writing about exactly. The only rule is to write away the blank page and fill it with words.

Make sure to share your results in the comments below, and don’t forget to encourage other writers to keep pushing on, despite their doubts!

This article is by a guest blogger. Would you like to write for The Write Practice? Check out our guest post guidelines.

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133 Comments

  1. rosie

    I think someone posted this on The Write Practice before: it’s a story about a writer who wanted to give up. He went to a psychologist for his writing problems, and the psychologist said, “Write the world’s worst sentence.”
    The writer thought it was crazy, but he went home and did it anyway. He went on to win tons of Academy Awards, because he learnt that all he had to do was sit down and try.

    Reply
    • Elaine

      I saw that too; a good example to encourage us to keep writing.

      Reply
    • Blake Powell

      Hey Rosie,

      That’s beautiful advice – thanks for sharing! There’s definitely a great admiration in writing anything at all, considering how hard it can be to write on a consistent basis.

      Although I have to say, I’m not sure that advice would drag most of us to the table and actually get us writing some days. Some days, I think, we have to think that what we’re writing is good, even if it’s not. Another writer on here mentioned Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, where she mentions the concept of “shitty first drafts”, and that all first drafts are shitty no matter the talent of the writer.

      While that may be true, I think going at it from a more positive point of view can be more encouraging for even those of us with the toughest skin, and I think embracing imperfectionism can get us there no matter what kind of day we’re having. Doing is better than not doing, but we can still find beauty in the terrible, and mine out the little nuggets of hope.

      Thanks for your comment!

      Reply
  2. George McNeese

    The desire to be perfect plagues me every time. I feel like my first draft has to be the best draft; mistakes are not acceptable. I think that’s what holds me back from writing new stories and that elusive novel. I feel like it has to be perfect, or it’s not worth writing.

    You’re right, though, when it comes to embracing the imperfectionist. I think that’s the only way we learn to become better writers and make our work truly the best it can be. I’m working on embracing that side; to “kill” the side of me that strives for something that can never be attained.

    Reply
    • Elaine

      We’ll start a group, and call it The Imperfect Writer; no perfect people allowed.

      Reply
      • Blake Powell

        Psst, Elaine. I have this little group on Facebook called The Bulletproof Writers, and it’s for writers like you to move past their doubts and start creating the art they know they can create and that the world deserves.

        I’ve left a link below, if you’re interested. I’ll add you as soon as I see your request, pinky promise!

        https://www.facebook.com/groups/bulletproofwriters/

        Reply
    • Blake Powell

      Hey George,

      I think all of us feel that way to an extent. Writing is not a favourable hobby in that sense, and it seems to bring out the inner perfectionist in all of us more than anything other in life (and as a form of art, it’s certainly up there in contributing to feelings of lower self-worth and spurring on “imposter syndrome”).

      Yes, absolutely what most of us write is crap at first, including the first draft of this post! But we can refine it later, and piece it together after when we spread the broken pieces all over the ground; and instead of scrambling to pick them up at first, we can look at them first and see what ideas and value they bring to the table and what they inspire inside of us as they stand on their own.

      And never forget to use the support around you to your full extent – even in this comment section, there are writers facing the issues you are (me included). I think with the right kind of support and the right kind of belief in yourself, you can write the best stories you could have ever imagined – but you always have to take that first step, and put that first foot in front of the other no matter what kind of day you’re having.

      And through all the bad, I promise you’ll find some good. Hope that helps 🙂

      Reply
      • George McNeese

        That does help. Knowing there are writers like me gives me comfort. And knowing there are writers who want to read my work is comforting, yet frightening. I guess the idea of putting my work out there for people to read and pick apart sends a little shiver down my spine. Because I want my work to be the best possible. I need to remember that I need to allow myself room for error; that people are going to be honest in what they have to say–hopefully.

        Reply
        • Blake Powell

          It’s incredibly scary, no doubt about it.

          But I found that once my writing got out there, despite all of my worries and self-doubts, it turned out fine. And my words were helping people unlock theirs.

          You’ll get naysayers and all that, but I believe that everyone in the world has a message to share with others (and sometimes, your message will only connect with a small amount of people, and that’s okay).

          Even putting your stuff out there is success in my mind. You don’t have to be paid to be successful, but you have to stay true to yourself. and sharing that message with others is the tantmaount way to unlock your confidence and help others.

          Reply
  3. Teng

    This is most writer blocks. Be imperfect.

    Reply
    • Blake Powell

      Absolutely, Teng. Thanks for your comment.

      We can only move through the mental blocks by creating, and letting ourselves know that we can do this. And in the slog it can be to sometimes create, we can use this technique to boost our writing tenfold.

      Write on!

      Reply
  4. Felicia Reevers

    Truly needed this today. The last few days have been stressful with low or NO daily word counts. Will take that walk…and a few deep breaths, and give today’s task a shot. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Elaine

      Did you where your PJ’s?

      Reply
    • Blake Powell

      Hi Felicia,

      Thanks for your comment, and glad to help. You can do it, I believe in you. And don’t forget to share your work later – I’m counting on you!

      Reply
  5. Michael Adewunmi

    Well! You’re talking to me here.

    I just started learning the writing craft.

    I started my daily practice and tried to write few articles and poems which I realised they were really poor. This got me discouraged. Each time it’s time to practice, I get scared and bothered that I would just write crap. This made me not to write at all.

    Initially, I write everyday but now, I only write once a week. sometimes, I don’t write at all (because I don’t know what to write and even when I know, I feel the writing will be poor) which is really bad, especially for someone new to the writing craft.

    This article is saying the real truth and I am happy I read this article. I will definitely start writing again even when my writing isn’t good enough.

    Thanks for this article.

    Reply
    • Elaine

      Thank you; it’s good to know I’m not the only one.
      I’m a newbie tool

      Reply
    • Blake Powell

      Hey Michael, you’re very welcome. Glad to help.

      Nothing you write is “poor” – and if you only take one thing away from this article, please let it be that. You’re a writer, deep down. I can tell by the way you write that this desire to constantly be “better” is eating away at you, and it’s destroying your desire to create. The only way to banish these self-defeating thoughts is to write. Write without thought of what you’re writing, and let your feelings flow. Write about your life experiences, and write about what you want to change in this world.

      You don’t have to write every day, either – that’s a common myth that drives me bonkers. But I believe all writers need to write to express themselves on a frequency that works best for them, and the only way to discover that is to write.

      I challenge you now to write. Respond to this comment; write down your joys and your hopes and your fears. Write down what you think about the writing process, and write what you feel. And in that writing, despite it looking bad and appearing to be not-that-great, you’ll find some good, I promise you.

      Write on – and never stop writing! Just don’t wait for another day when the words flow better. Do the work now, and you’ll jump-start your writing today, and not tomorrow.

      And if I can do anything else to help you on your writing journey, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

      Reply
      • Michael Adewunmi

        Hello Blake. Thanks a lot for the encouragement and the challenge too.

        It’s sad I am just replying. That’s what happens when one lives in a part of the world with extremely expensive and poor electricity and Internet access.

        I took up the challenge and I came up with this. I was actually contemplating on sharing it because I felt it isn’t fun and creative but I just decided to summon the courage.

        Though it didn’t really follow what you challenged me to write on but I just poured out my heart while typing and Here is the outcome.

        I wanna be a writer! I love to be a writer. This is not because I know what to write. Neither is it because I have ideas that will change the world. Ironically, I am more of a wannabe writer who doesn’t know what to write but loves to write. I guess it is because I just wanna be able to put down my thoughts in a way that pleases me and encourages everyone.

        I have seen great writers, I have read great pieces and wishing I could write as good. I have read “things” that touched my heart. I have read pieces that gave me hope. I have also read pieces that ended up making me scared of what tomorrow holds. All in all, I loved the writings. Irrespective of how the writer made me feel at the end, I won’t stop loving the writing process.

        Though I try to write, but I find it hard putting my thoughts together the way that pleases me. This is the challenge I am facing. I grind through the process of not knowing what to write or how to write what I wanna write. It kills me! I really wanna write something that will change the world. I really want to write pieces that will give hope but here I am still fighting with how to put my thoughts together.

        This leads to my greatest fear! The fear of writing poorly. The fear of the unknown writer in me. The fear of not born a writer but wanting to write. The fear of not getting better. The fear of the uncertain tomorrow. The fear of giving up. Though I have these fear but it’s left to me to decide how I want to handle them.

        Yes I have heard that writers are born to be great writers but I have also heard that writing is a craft which can be LEARNT. May be I am not born as Frank Kafka but Now is the time to learn and be one.

        I know I feel like quiting but I WILL NOT QUIT! I will patiently grind through the days when I stare at a blank screen with no hope of writing anything meaningful while I will also appreciate the days when words will seem to flow easily. I will try everything possible to get better so I can tell the world that writing is a craft which can be learnt.

        What If I try so hard and I don’t get better? Then I will still write just to tell the world that I have tried to learn the craft. I will leave them to decide if it’s possible to learn the craft or not. Until then, I will keep writing and hoping to get better!

        Right here, I pour out my fears but I have my hopes. My hope is that I will one day get better at the writing craft. I am hoping that one day; I will beat my chest and call myself a writer. I am anxiously hoping that one day, I will write pieces that will touch people’s heart. I hope that one day, I will write pieces that will give people Hope and the fear and uncertainty of the future will vanish. I am really hoping that one day I will look back to this day and smile to say “I MADE IT THIS FAR”.

        Though I pour out my fears and hopes but I also have what gives me Joy. Though I am not social, I live my life all by myself. and go through my moments all alone but I have two things I have always appreciated. These are God and My Family.

        Knowing that I have someone “up there” in the heavens that wants the best for me and created me for a purpose gives me joy and hope. Even if I stare at a blank screen and don’t know what to write, I will keep trying because I know He has a purpose for me. I know He feels my pain and would make me smile at the end. He is my greatest joy. I don’t see Him but I feel His love every ticking of the clock.

        My Family! I can see my family and I feel their love every passing of the day. They give me strength and they are also my joy. Sometimes, we quarrel, other times, I feel I dont need them but eachtime I think deeply, I imagine a worse life without them. They know when I am unhappy and try to make me happy even when I don’t wanna be happy.

        Families arê one of man’s greatest joy. They will always be there. That makes them different from Friends.
        For now, God, my family, and the hope of being a better writer gives me joy. Very soon, I know My writings will one day give me joy.

        On pouring out my fears, my hopes and my Joy, I ask myself what I wanna change in the world and I AM JUST BLANK. I am ashamed to say that but May be that’s the reason I don’t know what to write. Right now, something is sure – I just wanna live, Enjoy the moment and stay happy which I cannot do if I eventually couldn’t be a writer.

        Well, it’s possible I already have what I Wanna change in this world. Probably I have just not given it a good thought. Irrespective of my uncertainty about what I wanna change in the world, I know “something” will strike me very soon while writing and this would make all the difference. I guess I will just have to stick to the greatest advice for a writer which is “JUST WRITE” and “DONT STOP”.

        I hope you will be able to read it and not get bored after a while.

        Thanks for the challenge and making me write this much. 🙂

        Reply
        • Blake Powell

          Hey Michael,

          Thanks so much for sharing your story. I know that took guts, but sometimes it’s bravery in the face of fear you need to hit the publish button. And did you type all that in 15 minutes? Your WPM is off the charts!

          I’m gonna circle back to something you said at the start of your comment: that you “want” to be a writer but you “don’t know where to starts”. The truth is, nobody knew where they want to go when they start out, let alone where they want to start. Sometimes it takes time to figure out where you want to go, and lots of practice. While practice may not make perfect in the end, practice is what you need to get better – and if you want to be a writer, you have to write. You must do the work, or else you’re no writer at all.

          Second, you want to change the world – so isn’t that what you want to write about? How do you want to change the world, and in what way? How are YOU the only one who can share that impact with the world?

          Focus on these questions, and work towards your answers, and I’m sure that you’ll make change soon. But, most importantly, never stop doing the work.

          If you haven’t already, I’d recommend checking out either “On Writing” by Stephen King, or “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott. Both are very good, but very different takes on the writing life, and how to make it as a writer (not in fame, but in inner success).

          Reply
          • Michael Adewunmi

            Hello.Thanks for the feedback and the nice words.

            I will definitely check out those books and I will sure keep writing. I am starting to believe in myself bit by bit. I know I will definitely get there.

            I was able to practice again with the tiny time I have got yesterday. I was only writing my random thoughts though. I now understand your words that “….Despite it looking bad……you will always find some good”. I think that is the most important thing I am taking away from this article. And this is really All I need to keep writing. Though my random words are a bit bland and not creative but I was able to pull some words out of those words and formed four lines of a poem.

            May be I shouldn’t share it here though since I’ve already shared something. I heard you have a Facebook group. I think I will check it out and probably post there.

            Your words gives me hope and I’m glad I am a member of the writepractice community even if this is really my first time of engaging with this awesome community.

            Thanks a lot Blake.

          • Blake Powell

            Michael, you’re very welcome. It means a lot to me, and I’m glad I could help your writing flow again.

            You can only do it one step at a time, bit by bit, but if you keep with it and write you will improve. See you in the group!

  6. T.R. Kelley

    Well, I did not fill the entire page but I did blather on for 3/4 of it. I might have completed the entire page if I did not stop to correct grammar/spelling.

    Reply
    • Reagan Colbert

      I don’t think there’s any proven way to stop an inner perfectionist from going back to correct the spelling and grammar. You are not alone 🙂

      Reply
      • Blake Powell

        Absolutely, Reagan. There’s no shame in correcting grammar as you go, but it’s best not to make it a habit (although it’s better to make the occasional edit as you go then berate yourself over making the edits in the first place!).

        Reply
    • Blake Powell

      Hey T.R. Kelley, thanks for your comment.

      The way I see it, there’s no blathering in writing – there’s only writing down the details as you see them. And you wrote 3/4 of a page, which is way more than none, and so much more than many other writers out there struggling to even write one word today.

      Never forsake progress in searching for something “good” – the words will come, if only you let them come out of you. And that all starts with writing one single word.

      Hope this helps 🙂

      Reply
  7. Sefton

    Ha, I am untroubled by perfectionism! I write very quickly and if I stopped to look I might never restart. Over the last thtee years I’ve learned when to stop fiddling with a story and let it go. I can confirm rusty striving for perfection just occupies time you could be spending writing. Or eating cake. -Sef

    Reply
    • Blake Powell

      Hey Sefton,

      Glad to hear you escaped the perfectionism trap – it’s a trap many of us unknowingly fall into time and time again, and it’s so unfortunate to see. It’s a creativity killer and a mood dampener, for sure!

      It’s so important to just write and get it all down; even the act of putting your thoughts onto paper is so emotionally and mentally freeing. It’s incredible.

      And cake rules – although pie is pretty good, too!

      Reply
  8. LilianGardner

    Hello Blake,
    I love that you say,’Just Write’, and here goes. I’ve nothing planned so I’ll write what comes to mind at the moment.

    Carrie sat by my side on the stone bench. The spreading chestnut tree afforded us shade and a soft, pleasnat perfume from the candle-like blooms drifted in the air.
    “I know that’s a chestnut tree,” she said, squinting up at the branches and crinkling her small nose.
    “So it is,” I replied.
    “Have you played conkers?” she asked.
    “Yeah, when I was in school?”
    “Did you like school?”
    “I did, on most days. And you?”
    “Sometimes,” she said the word slowly, swinging her legs. “I don’t like it when I don’t know my stuff, like sums and that.”
    “I suppose many girls and boys feel the same as you do.”
    Then she changed the subject and asked, “Do you think there’s a bag of gold at the end of the rainbow?”
    “I wonder,” I replied, rubbing my forehead and pretending to think. I wondered what to say, and remembered that children dwell in fantasy. “Coming to think of it, There might

    be, that is if people say so.”
    “But no one’s ever found the gold.”
    “I know. Maybe it’s guarded by a dragon. Who knows?”
    Her eyes lit up. “Can you tell me astory about a dragon?” she asked.
    “Sure,” I said, and began creating a dragon tale just for her.

    That’s my fifteen minutes, Blake. I’m not editing.

    Reply
    • Elaine

      Wonderful story.

      Reply
      • LilianGardner

        Thanks Elaine.

        Reply
    • Blake Powell

      Hey Lilian,

      The best things in life are never planned, I find. My best writing comes when I never think it’ll come, and it certainly comes when I let myself bare my heart onto the page even knowing that other people may see my words after some time (and copious amounts of editing, of course).

      You have a strong grasp of dialogue, which is rare to see. My dialogue in the first draft of my novel was sometimes (mostly) hideous and I knew it, but I’m glad to see that yours even without editing is still really real and sparks interest in me to read more.

      Glad to help, and thanks for sharing your story.

      Reply
      • LilianGardner

        Thanks Blake. I adore writing dialogue where words come easy. Perhaps because I like talikng and listening to people. The other day at the bus stop an elderly woman told me her life story in five minutes.
        As you say, ‘Just Write’, so I might stretch her story and develop it into a romance novel.

        Reply
        • Blake Powell

          You totally should Lilian! Sometimes when we pursue a story we don’t really know where it will go, and it kind of takes us along for the ride, but it’s so worth it!

          Writing is a huge and unpredictable thrill that way 🙂

          Reply
      • Chasten

        “The best things in life are never planned,” thank you for saying that! I’ve been stuck on one scene in a book I’m trying to write, but it needs a certain feeling for its depth, and the fact that it IS the best moment the child has had so far . And planning simply isn’t working. Thank you!

        Reply
        • Blake Powell

          Hey Chasten,

          You’re so welcome, and glad my words have helped you write your story. Thanks for your comment 🙂

          Write on!

          Reply
    • T.K. Lewis

      This reminds me of when I was a kid climbing trees and playing outside. Simpler days

      Reply
      • Blake Powell

        T.K., definitely. It’s a shame that youth is so fleeting – it seems like those days were many years away, but I think it’s our job as writers to help people recapture those deepest feelings within their hearts.

        Reply
      • LilianGardner

        Lovely days, those were. I’m a kid at heart.

        Reply
  9. Elaine

    Timer set: What to write about? My head feels empty of intelligent thoughts; a vast empty space. I struggle with wanting to write “perfect”, no mistakes allowed! Have struggled to overcome perfectionism in other areas of my life. Trying to be more real at this point in my journey. It’s overcast and dull gray gloomy here today. I am doing my writing practice almost every day now. Wrote the beginning of a short story, and have a small journal where I am writing down topics to write about as they come to me, they say: Write about me. Also, working on developing a main character; plan to write short stories about her as I get to know her. Her name is Clare Anne. She’s been silent for several days now. Wonder if I hurt her feelings or did my thought train jump the tracks? This is risky business, people could laugh at my terrible writing or make fun of me. This sure is a jumble sale of thoughts going down on paper, actually, on the screen of my laptop. If my writing is bad, even really, terribly bad—nobody will die. Maybe I will learn something by risking failure in public on this blog, 15 min. feels like a hundred years rights now. Will you be kind or cruel? Will you even take time to read my ramblings? I want to learn to be a better writer and grow as a person. I am a recovering coward–there I said it! It’s true; I’ve allowed fear to stop me from even trying. Now it is time to be brave. We’re all learning here, and none of us are perfect, well, maybe Joe. Blake, Thank you, this was a great writing prompt, it made me think, and challenged me to take a risk. Thank you to all who read this.

    Reply
    • Blake Powell

      Thank you Elaine for sharing your story. I’m still alive, and nobody died, I promise. And you’re so very welcome for the prompt, glad I can help.

      This took me back to my college days – so thanks for that! Essays on Joyce and the Romantics and the stream of consciousness… all jumbled together like little lightning rods scrambling to get out, but no one will take them in or heed them any attention at all. But such are the way of thoughts!

      You’re not a coward, Elaine. You never were. You’re right here, sharing your thoughts with all of us now, and that takes a bravery beyond the capabilities many have. You’re a writer, but you’ve always been one. Only now, you’re taking in the support around you and embracing your own gifts as a writer. You’re stepping into the power of your writing gifts, and I’m really glad to be able to help you on your journey.

      The only way any of us become cowards is if we give in to the fear of doing things not in a perfect way – instead, we have to embrace the imperfection, and move past the doubt. Only then can we call ourselves writers, because we’ll have written ourselves out of the holes of self-pity, regret, doubt, fear, and all those other fun things. Done is better than perfect, always.

      Write on! And don’t hesitate to contact me with that story about Clare Ann – I’m sure she’ll come and share her thoughts with you real soon 🙂

      Reply
      • Elaine

        Blake, Thank you, it means a great deal to me.

        Reply
  10. Reagan Colbert

    Ok, I am not sure that I exactly qualified for this, because A) I’m really in the mood to write, and B) I did kind of think about what I was writing, because it’s been one of the only things on my mind for weeks.
    But, I didn’t edit it, or even read through it after I had done it. This is an excerpt I just wrote from my WIP, from the POV of one of the soldiers who crucified Jesus:
    ———————————————————————————————————
    Marcus glanced back up at the crosses, at Jesus. At that moment, the Nazarene turned and looked at him once more, and once more Marcus felt the strange sensation that the Man knew what he was thinking. Marcus could see the toll that his torture had had on Him, and he knew it wouldn’t be much longer for Him.
    “Marcus,” he turned back to the others, “It’s yours. The lots fell on you.” Felix extended the purple cloth to him, and he hesitated before taking it. The beauty of
    the cloth was lessened by the stains that covered it. Marcus gripped it in his palm and shut his eyes, the reality of what he held sinking deep into his soul. That blood belonged to the man who was dying behind him, the man who, when he had finally taken his last breath, would have been killed by Marcus’ own hands.
    “Lucky dog,” Felix stood and walked towards the crosses, his armor rattling as he did. He craned his neck to look up at them, then shrugged, “I don’t see why they could not simply just stone or hang them. Why go to these lengths to simply
    have the same result?”
    Justus looked up at him solemnly, “Because they ordered it. They have reasons for wanting criminals to die in this way.”
    “Not all of them are criminals,” Marcus muttered, and Justus shot him a warning look. Marcus glanced to see the centurion, Graspus, coming towards them. The four men
    stood to attention and saluted. Graspus glanced at the three condemned, all of whom had been silent for at least an hour. Perhaps Marcus was delusional, but he was sure he had seen a trace of pity in the hardened soldier’s eyes. Then he let his gaze drop. He was simply hopeful, wishing some other man in the Roman legions had a soul.
    While Justus would forever keep Marcus’ secret in confidence, it was clear that Justus was speaking the truth when he said that he had no soul. He had performed his part in this crucifixion without hesitation, and certainly without the fear and disgust Marcus had
    felt.
    He looked back at Graspus, and was even more sure that he had imagined anything other than the steely look of a Roman. The look that said death meant nothing to them, no matte who it was. To Graspus, Justus, Felix, and any other man who did this nearly every day, it did nothing to the souls they did not have. It was nothing new. It was the look, and the feelings, of every Roman.
    Every Roman but him.
    ————————————————————————————————————

    Love the insights you’ve offered here, and though I would never ever see myself taking a walk in my pajamas, I always need this kind of reminder. I am THE definition of a perfectionist! Great article!

    Reply
    • Blake Powell

      Hey Reagan,

      Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone that you’re in a state of creative flow right now, even as you’ve now become the bane of many writers who are struggling to even put a sentence to the page 😉

      Loved your story – it’s such an interesting angle from a scene that many of us know, but from a viewpoint many of us would never have considered taking. And especially from the religious aspect, it raises a huge number of questions and curiosity – and intrigue is always good for piquing reader interest.

      I never thought I’d have taken a walk in my PJ’s either, until I did it. I didn’t get many strange looks, but even if I did I supposed it would fit in with my persona as a lonely and estranged writer, haha.

      Thanks for sharing your story Reagan, and always happy to help.

      Reply
      • Reagan Colbert

        Thanks Blake. I really wanted to get a different and unique perspective on it, and I’m glad you liked it. Actually come to think of it, you’re the first who’s read any of it, so I’m really glad you liked it!

        Reply
        • Blake Powell

          No problem Reagan – I’m honoured. And I’m going to give you a challenge and push yourself to write more on it, and flesh out the story you have now.

          And if you’re interested, I’m building a community of like-minded writers where we can lean on each other and give others the support we need to grow as writers. I’d be humbled if you could take a look at it, and join it if you think it could be of any value to you.

          https://www.facebook.com/groups/bulletproofwriters/

          Reply
          • Reagan Colbert

            Thanks Blake… I’ll be sure to check it out!

    • Elaine

      I want to hear more about what happens to these characters. Good job!

      Reply
      • Reagan Colbert

        Thanks Elaine! I’ll probably put it on my blog when it’s done. This is my first time putting it out there, so glad you liked it!

        Reply
        • Blake Powell

          This is a friendly encouragement to publish it. Don’t wait too long until it’s perfect, haha.

          Let me know when it goes live Reagan! 😉

          Reply
          • Reagan Colbert

            Ok I will. Still working on it though, thinking it’ll end up being a novelette. Maybe I’ll make it into a kindle.

          • Reagan Colbert

            Hi Blake,
            I know it’s been awhile, and I’m not sure if you were just being polite (a lot of people do that 🙂 but I wanted to let you know that I took your advice, and my novella, “The Hidden Soul” was published on Kindle two days ago.
            Thanks for your advice and encouragement! 🙂

          • Blake Powell

            Hey Reagan,
            Thanks for the follow-up. I most certainly care 🙂 and I’m really happy you published it! (btw, this basically made my day, so thank you for that).
            The question is, where do I find it? Do you mind sending me a copy so I can read it over? I’ve browsed the Kindle store (here in Canada) and can’t seem to find it on the site, but I’d love to read it.

          • Blake Powell

            Hey, my pleasure Reagan. I think the fact that I inspired someone to action is enough to know the work I’m doing is making a difference 🙂

            It does however say “this product is currently not available for purchase”. I’m in Canada, so not sure if it’s a restriction because of that. Anyways, congrats!

          • Reagan Colbert

            Thanks, Blake. I’m not sure why it isn’t available… maybe it’s an international thing.
            If you have Microsoft word, I could email the original to you, if you’d like. Just an idea 🙂

          • Reagan Colbert

            Thanks, Blake! I’ll look into it and hopefully will be able to get it to you tonight or tomorrow morning.
            I really appreciate your encouragement! Thanks!

  11. MaryJoM

    Hello, Blake!

    Thanks for the jolt. Here’s my 15 minutes worth – no editing, no revising.

    The Muggermites were a mighty empire. Poised on the brink of being subsumed by the larger empire of Toyland, they maintained their position of first nation to little Mikey, who loved them with no restraints.

    Mikey spent endless hours with them, marveling at their complex society of kings, queens and other royalty who always treated their loyal subjects with respect and dignity. Mikey learned important life lessons from them. Things like valuing all people regardless of their place in society, and treating everyone as you would like to be treated yourself.

    Their King, Maurice the First, and their Queen, the lovely Maureen, had three tiny Muggermite children: Martin, the eldest at 10, Morris, the middle child at 7, and the joy of their lives, Merle, the baby, who was only 3 years old. The children were lucky to be born into royalty, but they played with all of the children in the kingdom as their equals. Because the royals were so beneficent, there were very few fights or arguments, and all of the children played happily together.

    One day, Martin, Morris, and Merle were playing one of their usual games – the Muggermite equivalent of hide and seek, called muggering. Morris and Merle hid, and Martin was selected to find them. Morris hid beneath a colorful turquoise mushroom, and Merle secreted herself behind the stem of a large geranium. Martin counted to ten and began searching. He found Morris easily, but could not find Merle, since the geranium plant she chose was on the far edge of the playground. He began to worry, since Merle was so tiny, and he was tasked with making sure she was safe.

    Martin and Morris looked high and low, and only stopped when they heard a muffled cry from Merle, “Help! Help me, I think I’ve fallen into a trap of some sort.”

    They immediately found where her voice was coming from, since Muggermites have exceptional hearing. The two boys rushed over to discover that her leg had gotten caught in a hole beside the geranium stem. Fortunately, they were able to get her out, but found that her leg was broken. The pair devised a makeshift stretcher from a large geranium leaf and carried her home to the castle so she could see Dr. Miles Manchester, who fixed her up perfectly.

    Their games were postponed for a while, but Merle recovered quickly and they were able to pursue the things they held most dear shortly.

    Reply
    • Blake Powell

      Hey Mary,

      Absolutely love the concept behind the giant geraniums and the Muggermites themselves. Thank you for sharing! The world building and imagery really pulled me in and kept me reading.

      Is this a story you’ve been working for a while, or one you crafted right here on the spot? There’s certainly potential for a bigger story here, either way.

      Reply
      • MaryJoM

        Thanks, Blake & Elaine! Remember when kids had imaginary friends? I had one – Mishidombada. Our son Mike, an only child as I’d been, one-upped me. He had an entire civilization. I’d like to take this and turn it into a children’s book in partnership with our son. But first, I have a memoir to finish, then work on a WWII story about four strong women…

        Reply
        • Blake Powell

          Your imagination will take you places, Mary, if you embrace it and let it out.

          Good luck with your story, and let me know how it turns out!

          Reply
    • Elaine

      Very nice story, creative. What fun people to hang out with.

      Reply
  12. Priyanka Chhadwa

    I was trying to think of the day when writing was not such an effort. I stopped being a writer the day i wished i wanted to be one. Putting word on paper is so much more sacred than just giving it away in conversation. From writing long essays on environmental issues to being reduced to Facebook status update.
    Facebook status updates are all i have written the last six months. Canny one liners that keep the flame of the writer inside me alive. What a loser. Well don’t get me wrong, that is still publishing words, but such a cheap way to do it at that. Where we sell are words for a few likes, the memory of it fading away in their minds with every scroll.

    I want to write a blog about food and travel, about life and lessons, about my cat and dog.
    But my thoughts are now racing me. Testing me if i can catch up to them. Blinks of great ideas come and go and one will never know.

    This is where i come to keep my sanity. These 15 minutes will go a long way. I am a writer in this moment. I will wait to be a writer again.

    Reply
    • Blake Powell

      Hey Priyanka,

      Thanks for sharing your story with us. You are a writer not when you call yourself one, but when you act like one – because only then can you call yourself one with true sincerity.

      I love the points about writing not for “likes” or shares or affection, but writing for a deeper need and a deeper desire. Not a desire to be heard, or loved, or admired, but to love yourself. To tap into that vein of existence we call writing and touch the world more deeply than ever before – and to mean what you say, and to say what you mean.

      You can be a writer; I know you can. I sense your emotions brewing beneath this post, in the cadence of the frustration of not writing, and it resonates with me. You can be a writer, absolutely, but only when you let yourself become one and put your soul to paper and just write.

      And never stop writing for as long as you live. Hope this helps!

      Reply
      • Priyanka Chhadwa

        Hi blake! Im glad to connect with you through that simple post. It puts a smile on my face to hear you say that my frustration resonates with you. I will let myself be a writer. NOW!

        Reply
        • Blake Powell

          Awesome! Glad to help 🙂

          We’re all in this boat together, so why not help each other out along the way?

          Reply
    • Nicola Tapson

      Don’t wait. Do it now. I believe you can write an awesome blog and you already have the habit by write for 15 minutes every day.

      Reply
      • Blake Powell

        Absolutely Nicola. Life is too short to put your writing dreams on hold.

        Regret only holds us back in the end as far as we let it.

        Reply
      • Priyanka Chhadwa

        Hey Nicola! thank you for your belief :))) I must start a blog

        Reply
        • Blake Powell

          In the words of Shia Lebeouf, do it!!! 😉

          Have you considered guest posting on other blogs as well Priyanka? I’ve found it to be hugely beneficial to my writing and it’s helped me reach am audience I never would have gotten by posting on my own. just a thought. 😛

          Reply
        • Nicola Tapson

          Yip. and when you do let me know so I can follow you 🙂 Happy writing.

          Reply
          • Priyanka Chhadwa

            What about you ? are you also a blogger ?

          • Priyanka Chhadwa

            will check it out! cool name!!!

          • Priyanka Chhadwa

            The dance of the bee. HAHAHA! love the use of language

    • Claudia

      For what it’s worth, I keep an idea journal. I read a lot. I take notes on what I’m reading. I read online news stories, long reads, other published stories that can inform my own writing. I identify as a writer for myself. I’m not a sometimes writer. I am a writer, period. Maybe I’m a good one, maybe not. It doesn’t matter. I’m writing.

      Reply
      • Blake Powell

        Making the association with my identity as a writer has really helped me too – but it’s not for everyone.

        The most important part is doing the work, and I think that calling yourself a writer certainly helps, but depends on the person.

        Reply
        • Claudia

          I agree that the most important part of writing is doing the work.

          Reply
          • Blake Powell

            The reminds me Claudia, Steven Pressfield’s book “Do The Work” is exceptionally good, if you haven’t read it. It’s a really short read and I’ve heard it’s similar to the “War of Art”, but totally worth it. Some definite value in there.

          • Blake Powell

            That reminds me Claudia, Steven Pressfield’s book “Do The Work” is exceptionally good, if you haven’t read it. It’s a really short read and I’ve heard it’s similar to the “War of Art”, but totally worth it. Some definite value in there.

          • Claudia

            Thank you for this, Blake. I’ll check it out for sure.

          • Blake Powell

            You’re very welcome Claudia. Jeff Goins is also very good as well, particularly his book “You Are A Writer”. It deals a lot with finding your identity and gaining the courage to call yourself one, even if you don’t feel like one at the time.

      • Priyanka Chhadwa

        godspeed to you claudia! do you know what you like to write about ?

        Reply
  13. LaCresha Lawson

    I struggle sometimes when writing. But, I know that sometimes I get stressed with my kids and sometimes I am tired. I do recognize that it will get done eventually. It will get done and no need to worry. I shouldn’t rush my work. I know what I want to write.

    Reply
    • Blake Powell

      Hey LaCresha, believe me when I say you’re not the only one.

      Writing is a daily struggle in itself, but when you have the tools and the right mindset to conquer it you can do wonders for your writer’s block.

      No need to rush, of course, but no need to make it perfect either. If you do the work, many great things will come – but you only need to take those first steps, and take the leap… otherwise you might get stuck in a writing rut forever. Luckily, those first words or pages you write don’t have to be good, and you can choose what you share with the world.

      Hope that helps, and thanks for your comment.

      Reply
  14. Blake Powell

    Hey guys, sorry I’m late with my own submission. It was certainly a crazy day. Thanks for all your kind words, and for reading my piece.

    Your support means more than you know – because in the end, this is about you. your journey, your experiences, and your life.

    And I believe that sharing those steps with the world is key to gaining your confidence, and assuming you identity as a writer. Because in the end, trusting in others to be viewed with value is all we can strive for – but first we must find that value in ourselves.

    Here’s what I wrote below:
    ——-

    Today I attended a presentation filled with many people – high-brow executives, ceos, problem solvers, managers of all kinds, and the regular employees. And myself. We were all kind of like the laypeople, but different.

    Our speaker was strange – he was in parts motivational, but also prideful. He was boastful, and helpful – but also a tad arrogant and he tried way too hard to be funny. But despite his best encouragements to push us to be better salespeople and more effective retailers, he never once pulled me in into his narrative. And that got me thinking – yeah, it was compelling as hell in many ways, but in some ways it wasn’t… not to me, anyways. The only thing I could think of were my thoughts in the cloud, and my ideal audience as a writer. When I would finally get my big break and touch the hearts minds and lives of many writers across the world, and not just in Canada. But it would take time and hard work, but that was time I was willing to give. To sacrifice, to nurture, to experience – in the most simplest way, the experience would be a part of my soul that I would have to share with others, but I was strangely okaywith that. Strangely okay with baring my soul on the page for others to see, no matter what I said in the end. For I was a writers, and writers write – and if I wanted to write from the heart, then I better do that. And I better damn well have something good to say, or I may as well say nothing at all, and have nothing to say at all.

    I did have a message, deep down. I wanted to encourage others to reach their greatness, and maybe unlock my own in the process. Was this selfish? Maybe. But isn’t all we do selfish in the end, selfish in some miniscule version of the word, in some tiny part of reality – isn’t all we do selfish, when we really boil it down to the key components? When we boil life down to its finer trimmings, and see it as it really it – see things as they really are? Life, the universe, and everything… wasn’t it all just something we see through the filter of our own lens? Perhaps it was, and perhaps it was not.

    I just knew I had to do this thing, whatever it was. To share my gift with the world, to gain fame, to spread my message… but above all, to change the lives of others. I kinew I could do that, knew I could changet he lives of others, get them to see what they couldn’t see themselves. No – to get them to see what they could see themselves, deep down, but were too scared to pull out of themselves and transfer onto the page. It was just a thing, in the end, another thing that we all do in the world, so why not? It wasn’t too far out of the reaches of humanity, out of the realm of possibility; it was enytirely within my grasp, even though it was slipping. Slowly slipping every day, despite my best efforts to latch onto it and keep it close to my heart at all times, and whenever I needed it. But it was a feeling… and feelings are impermanent, in the end. Feelings are not something we can latch onto, and keep forever. Sure, we can record them, but in the end something is lost – some tangible part of the feeling is lost in the act of recording it, isn’t it? So, sure, we can record things, but in the end they are only recordings, only fragments of the experience, an experiment of commiting mind to paper. And in the end, fragments are small pieces of things, broken things that we can try to piece together in the end, grab onto them piece by piece and joni them together again with the glue of life, of our efforts – but maybe in the end, we were only meant to experience them that one time.

    In that one flash of light, we see – but maybe we only see it because it’s a flash, a glimpse, a perspective (no matter how small it may be in the end, we see it for what it is at that moment). And maybe therein lies the beauty of it, the beauty of things, the beauty of impermanence, the maginificence of life… the all-being of life, and living, and our humanity, all estranged – no, collected – into one moment, a moment which we can choose to let slide or choose to let others to see, in the hopes that it will help and inspire and move them to greater heights.

    This hope, however, is fleeting. Because sharing our work, in the end, comes down to faith. Faith that we can change others, hope that we can move others. And in the end, all hope and faith starts with a leap – that is why they call it a “leap of faith”, because we’re trusting ourselves to land in the end, despite our bumbling and our incoherent nature and our failings. In the end, we only hope to be loved, and in that love we can find something of greater value to the world, something that will enrich our lives and possibily the lives of others.

    And in the end, isn’t that enough?

    I believe so – it has to be. For if it is not, what else is there to strive for? Who else are we to be?

    Reply
  15. Michaela Rose

    All right, here goes nothing. This may or may not turn out to be a disaster but hey, nothing ever comes from doing nothing right?

    Charlotte Harper watched as her best friend Isaac climbed into the cab, the yellow door slamming behind him. They had just finished eating dinner when his mother called, asking him to come home. She had sounded urgent enough over the phone for Charlie to assure him it was okay to leave, her birthday night could wait for another time; she wasn’t going to keep Isaac from his family, especially if something was wrong.

    She watched the cab drive away, cold wind blowing against her back. It had been a typically chilly day, the shade of the skyscrapers adding to the cold a bit more than usual. Head down and collar up, Charlie began to walk home. She could have taken a cab as Isaac had done but she never really liked to, not only did they freak her out a bit, but she had always preferred walking when the situation allowed it. Not many people were out tonight, but then again who would really want to be, not only did it seem like it was about to snow but after all of the maulings and murders that had been going on lately no one really felt safe out at night.

    Except Charlie anyway, even with all the gory news that had been on the t.v this morning she didn’t feel like she was in any danger. The person following her however, would disagree.

    .

    Dim streetlights and the occasional pair of headlights cast flickers of light against the buildings and into alleyways, leaving only a small few pools of shadow for him to hide in. The girl had no idea she was being followed, by the beast or by the man. The beast, who’s plan was more than a little sinister, was about twenty paces in front of him and maybe thirty behind the girl. Of course, if she were to look behind her, all she would see is a large dog in place of the beast and air in place of him. Which, while making it very easy to deceive the humans, also made it increasingly difficult for them to explain certain things to themselves. Like why, if he stepped into the light, there would be a shadow but no one for it to belong to.

    It was always fun too play with the humans, to fool them with glamours and tricks but now was not the time for games. This was business. Life and death hanging in the balance. Just a typical Friday night.

    Right as the girl turned a corner down an even more deserted street than they had been on, the creature pounced, as did the man. The large and chunky beast was slower than the man, his movements sluggish and not very calculated. But, with surprise on its side, it could have killed the girl with a halfhearted swipe of its paw. The man reached the creature before it made its kill and with a ear splitting screech, the man’s blade dove into its back.

    Reply
    • LilianGardner

      Wow! Michaela Rose. Thanks for sharing your story. I like the suspense you create by leaving us guessing till the very end of what will happen to the girl.

      Reply
    • Blake Powell

      Ooh intrigue, I like it! Thanks for sharing your story with us Michaela. Definitely set up for some future material, and you leave just enough to keep the reader interested in reading more.

      Reply
  16. Nicola Tapson

    Just write. Put those thoughts that have been whirling around in your mind all day, all month, all year on to the sparkling white paper. Don’t worry whether it makes sense or the POV is correct just get the novel which is churning its way through your mind down on the paper. Stop telling everyone about this brilliant idea you have and how you are going to publish it and become famous. Nothing will happen if you don’t have manuscript with words of the story scribbled all over the crisp white paper. Damage the page with your scratches and your scrawls let your soul bleed on to the paper make it dirty with all that is welled up inside that made brain of yours. If you don’t start to write I am sure you will drive yourself crazy and you will live up to the self doubt streaming audio you play yourself every day when you try to put you down. Don’t let yourself stand in your way. Walk past her in your pajamas and put it down now. Write the epic novel and let the blood sweat and tears stain the page with ink of your mind until you are done. So here is the beginning of the story.

    The blood red rays soaked the earth as Gideon got up for his morning chores. He enjoyed the silence of the morning. The silent twitter of the birds as the sung the morning alive. He walked into the bathroom and splashed his face. Today was going be tedious. He had a whole group of Indonesian tourists to show around the game reserve and they never stopped asking questions like a bus full of curious toddlers. If only he could just take the Jeep out on his own and take it to the outcrop and drink his coffee and smoke his cigarette in peace before the crowd clamoured on him. He wasn’t into noise every since the accident. Noise made him angry and he hated being angry that is why he had made a complete 180 with his life and ventured into the bush. It was never very loud in the bush and if it was it was natural so it never jarred his nerves.

    “Gideon, stop daydream and come and help me make the flask for the trips” shouted Harold. That was another jarring noise that annoyed Gideon. Gideon moved over to the kitchen and took the flask out of the cupboard. He switched the kettle on and played a game on his phone while he waited for it to boil.

    “Hey, so I hear these guests of ours are keen to see a pangolin” said Harold.

    “A pangolin?” queried Gideon, “but I haven’t seen one in months”.

    “yeah, well know what the boss says give the client what it wants.”

    “Well, Pangolins are a bit hard to track down than your regular Big Five but hopefully we shall find one today.”

    Reply
    • Blake Powell

      This is great, Nicola. Your opening was fantastic, and I loved your words like “damage” the page and how we must write to stop the “streaming” nature of our self-doubt – very cool. Thanks for sharing it with us.

      Reply
      • Vincent

        Thank you.

        Reply
  17. Vincent

    No edit – raw – enjoy!!!

    Even God Skins a cat more than one way – Going to a café without
    women is like going to a mountain without flowers – Eastern Europe sayings.
    Interesting revelations, somehow there is a truth in them. How does that apply
    to our situation though? Sigmund you have been fooling around all these years
    trying to figure out what makes people tick and now where are you. Back at the
    beginning. Why? Because you only look at one angle before you make a decree.
    You think in linear lines, it must be this because this and that make it so.
    You forgot that Tonto and the Lone Ranger didn’t make sense as a duo. They were
    opposites with opposing reasons. The enemy of my enemy wasn’t in play there at
    all. Hold on! I see it now you are rubbing your chin, arm crossed, you want to
    tell me that they are Homosexual! Geez another brilliant repetitive theme of
    yours. Or maybe they both hated their Mothers!!! Your ultimate fall back. Or
    was repressed anger at the absent Father. There you have it, your entire repertoire
    in three lines. How many volumes did you write about coming to these
    conclusions, that were so lacking in the understanding of how and what
    influences the mind of an individual. Of course there are like the sayings I
    started with a touch of truth in there.

    Where does that leave us now. What will you respond with now
    Sigmund. Yes, yes, scratch your beard and pretend that you are evaluating my
    outburst, defiling your brilliance for what it was and is; Wrong!!! Just
    Wrong!!! You sent hundreds, thousands of people into therapy making them
    believe they hated the very people that probably loved them the most. That
    probably helped them the most, but because of your repressed angers, your homophobias
    and your inablility to see that each
    case is different. Everyone is like a complex onion who when you peel the
    layers back they tell us everything and sometimes nothing. Some times people
    just are.

    Reply
    • Blake Powell

      Hey Vincent,

      I loved the end, when you said “some times people just are” – absolutely. I think you hit the nail on the head, and mined some gold in that last section.
      Freud was certainly an interesting figure with some theories that were a little too limiting in the end. Just a tad. He was certainly a smart guy, though.

      Reply
      • Vincent

        Thank you – Yes Freud was a smart guy –

        Reply
  18. I'm determined

    Here goes.

    The imperfect writer: yup, that’s me.

    I’m trying to get my stories finished. So many UFOs, not
    good, I;m getting nowhere agonizing over this.

    My most recent – actually, no, the most recent is the cameo
    I wrote today – which flowed – which is now waiting to be inserted into the ‘right’
    story – came out of my using the disabled toilet out at Spring Hill, the café? The
    restaurant? On that Viv and I attended. We had a wonderful time. The aspect
    that spring boarded this writing cameo was the fact that I couldn’t work out
    how to close the Disabled toilet door’s
    handled. So I hurried. Then noted the marble soup dispenser on the hand basin –
    hefted it. Definitely marble. Definitely weighty enough if I needed to defend
    myself, if a predator forced his way in. I could see it happening. Not that I
    would expect a man to be so enamoured of me, but because I live my storytelling.

    Excellent writing, if I may say so. Because it lived through me, because I experienced the event. The ‘L’ in the story was someone other than me, the writer.

    Excellent post, I wanted to thank the guest blogger, but cannot find the person’s name.

    Reply
    • Blake Powell

      Hey, that’s me! There’s a little blurb on top of the post that has a link where you can connect with me on my blog, and any other social platforms you frequent.

      Thanks for sharing!

      Reply
  19. Quinn Eurich

    Hi Blake,
    Great advice . . . and it totally works!
    But sorry can’t share with you what I wrote because my imperfect writing is done on paper. I find the pen-in-hand writing works best for me because the ideas and words just flow more easily.

    Reply
    • George McNeese

      I write with pen and paper, too. There’s a connection that you just don’t get when you’re on a computer.

      Reply
      • 709writer

        Yep, totally agree. There have been a million times when I can’t type one more word on that computer screen, but give me a pencil and a notebook and I can write something.

        Reply
        • Blake Powell

          This is interesting. I tend to get cramps when I write with a pen for too long, but I don’t have that issue with typing.

          Definitely something to consider to shake things up when staring at a blank screen isn’t working for us! There’s certainly something magical about writing on paper that the computer can’t give us, but I could never be without my computer.

          Reply
          • Quinn Eurich

            Hi Blake – the secret to effortless writing with a pen? Gel pens! I use all brands (and get whatever is on sale), but like the UniBall ones because they can be refilled.

          • Blake Powell

            Hey Quinn, thanks for the tip! I know we have some at work, and they’re super easy to use but I never thought about using them specifically for writing. Oops.

          • Marilyn Starks

            Quinn, I agree with you about the UniBall pens. Yet, when I have a deep urge to capture a thought, I’ll use whatever is closest to me (pens, pencils or my computer).

      • LilianGardner

        I agree with you George, thought the computer has many advantages of writing a novel, especially for correcting while editing. However, I love the feel of a paperback or hard copy,, and taking one off the shelf to re-read, even after ten years or more, is a pleasure.

        Reply
    • Blake Powell

      Hey Quinn, thanks for commenting!

      Hey, whatever works for you is best – and as long as it gets you writing, then all the better.

      Write on! Glad the prompt helped 🙂

      Reply
    • Hanlie Ingels

      Hi Quinn
      You are not alone in preferring paper to a computer. I am the same. It is also the case with me with books. I love paper books, although electronic books are less weighty to transport and living In Maun, Botswana, I don’t have access to any bookstore. Paper books smell nice (maybe somebody should develop a spray that smells like paper books – they might make a lot of money!), and I can flip pages. I especially love the smell of second hand books – they have traveled and told their stories to other people before me. Sometimes there are splotches and an insect or two stuck in the pages and it is nice to wonder what the book has experienced and where it has been.

      Reply
      • Quinn Eurich

        Hi Hanlie,

        I too love paper books and am a big fan of buying used books! I’ve discovered that the only ebooks I like reading are recreational books like novels. Books I use for business have to be the real thing. It’s always fun when I get a used book that someone else has done underlining in – so I can get an idea of what someone else found interesting in the book.

        Cheers!

        Reply
  20. Rhonda Flack

    This is good advice, my health holds me back and despite it I managed the penultimate draft of my play – yippee at least I hope its my penultimate draft.

    Reply
    • Blake Powell

      Hey Rhonda, thanks for commenting. Congrats on finishing the draft!

      Done is always better than perfect 🙂 write on!

      Reply
  21. T.K. Lewis

    “Can I go home now?” the boy asked.

    Officer Williams was no stranger to questioning children after a death in the family, but something seemed off about this boy. He had a strange calm about him that was uncharacteristic of children after a traumatic event like a parents death.

    “No. I am afraid you can’t. It may be too dangerous,” Williams said.

    “I don’t think so. The danger went away,” the boy said.

    “How do you know?”

    “Because I killed the monster,” the boy said triumphantly.

    Officer Williams looked perplexed at the child’s words.

    “What monster?”

    “The same one that shows up every night. My mommy drinks that nasty brown stuff and then it comes out. It yells at me and hits me. I get a headache and get mad sometimes. Sometimes the house shakes when that happens,” the boy said.

    “What brown stuff?” the officer asked.

    “It’s nasty. It smells like markers from school,” replied the boy.

    “Does your mommy hit and yell at you when she drinks that stuff?”

    “That’s not my mommy. It’s a trick from that monster.”

    Williams felt concerned pity for the child as the pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place.

    “Can you tell me what happened to the monster tonight? How did you kill it?”

    “The monster came out and hit me and yelled at me and pushed me. My head hurt really bad and I got really mad,” the boy said.

    “Then what happened?”

    “The house started to shake, but the monster wouldn’t stop this time. My head hurt more and more and I got madder. I wanted to hurt the monster and hit it back. Then it started acting like its head hurt too. Red stuff started coming out of its eyes and it fell over and started flopping around like a fish.”

    “Is that all that happened?” Williams asked.

    “Yes. Can I please go home now?” the boy asked again.

    “I’m sorry but you can’t right now,” Williams replied.

    “My head hurts.”

    Reply
    • Blake Powell

      Hey T.K., thanks for sharing with us.

      That’s an amazing story. You’ve got a great handle on dialogue and little details throughout the story like the eerie nature of the child and the intuition of the cop compliment it nicely and help it come together and feel alive.

      I have to wonder though, is the monster a metaphor for his father, or an actual real-life monster? The ambiguity is definitely intriguing me here.

      Reply
      • T.K. Lewis

        That is an interesting question. What do you think?

        Reply
        • Blake Powell

          Hmm. I got the feeling that it was his father that he killed. But I also recently watched Daredevil, and could only think of the scene with the Kingpin.

          –> Oops, just scanned to the top and saw the clue in there. I guess that confirms it!

          Reply
          • T.K. Lewis

            I enjoy hearing the interpretations of others when it comes to literature. It’s unique to each person. To be relevant with the original blog post, I agree that it is impossible to be perfect with writing. But my perspective is that the imperfection allows readers to latch onto something unique via interpretations and how someone mentally reacts to a piece of writing. If we get metaphorical about it, imperfection is a door to leads to a different room for each person that opens it.

          • Blake Powell

            Absolutely T.K. – writing is a very subjective thing, and no matter how perfect we think it may be any piece of good writing will always have people that don’t like it. I don’t think that makes it bad writing necessarily, but people’s experiences make up a huge part of the value they get from the content they read, and it’s unavoidable in the end.

            In the end, writing is all about making the other person feel deeply, either in the sense of enjoyment, hope, or despair, or all of the above. But there’s no perfection in the end – it simply doesn’t exist, especially in writing.

            Thanks for sharing!

    • LilianGardner

      I’m intrigued. My imagination is running wild and the monster in your story is, to my mind, a Jekyll/Hide person.
      Write on, please T.K. and ease our minds.
      All the best!

      Reply
  22. Expedition

    This is my favourite method. Sometimes I say to myself; whatever goes down on this document, I’m never returning to. That lets me be more of an imperfectionist.

    “Without eating I started out, the roacks and the road was dumpy of builders left behinds. This man is going to die – everyday something getting cut from his body, but I don’t remember what happened next I don’t understand. On the way trees nudged each other, and laughed with the wind. I stopped to rest I found little ants doing their jobs. No one to be seen. Sky was becoming grey, the step crumbles and we all chat about work. He brought apples with him and I laughed. Its funny because apples. Im not sure but glasses were thick, and the lake deep. Symbols are funny when we read them. I cant the weakness on that day. We’re weak and we can only. I don’t understand what is he saying what is he saying. Maybe he needs help. I need to talk to him. What is wrong my dear? Apples, apples. The step crumbled more. Lets move on. We’re nearly there. The sun peaked, the birds leaped. What is this youre speaking of? . I left it go, no one is moving from here. It began to make sense to my tiny mind. I need nappies for the baby! Who are you>>?? I slept for a few more minutes and then we carried on. The orange truck should be at the end of the cave when we arrive to pick us up. Dragging the material wrapped around oranges we all jogged slowly out to the open. You know.. im beginning to turn gold and I cant find my shoes. 7 days left, and that’s true. I don’t know why but that’s true. No I do know its true. Two little boys fell off that crumb the other day and we didn’t know what happened to them. 6 past time, wedont know. I need to memorise. Is this important. Shee tried to climb up the crumbs too, but we pulled her dowbn. Not now nemo, we neeed to go we’ll be late don’t do something silly they you might regret, just pile it all on your shoulders and meet us at the background of the cave. No, we can’t , but that is good too. I never thought of it that way. It’s true. The houses have a corrupted bombs ready to explode … and theyre already detonating. The steam opened us up like clam shells and we began to think, and take notes. I wish I could pause and deep think, but that isn’t the point. I want to learn, teach us! No no, we need to leave . Were a few blocks away from our point of view…. We need to keep going. Apples, oranges, trees.. can we stop now. The cars zoomend past. Liquorice emerged from the windows and the men threw out rubbish bins at each other, a few others came down on ropes, was this reall… of course now try to walk faster my dears. We stepped up the paste and started making sandwiches as we walked. Night began to fall,, the snake holes began to appear and the drops flew with the wind. The stream stopped and the birds quietened. 21 , 35 we were all good. Two groups, huddle. We ate water cubes and felt the frost get stuck between our nostrils. A flu, a fly and seven ladybugs. The scenes around us had forty little crumbs and a step that makes no sense. This is from the head this is my stomach. He still went on.. will you stop! We want to get some rest so we might be able to finish off in the morning. Brave men, brave men, I feel like a lady. Not just any lady. But really… what am I doing. What have I done. What would I do if I was put into such a situation. Then how can you find people criticizing them? I need to research and … find out, lear. Why do they do that, and does it really have a history> ? are there any other sayings?. The water shook . We tried to catch fish with our bare hands and the girl dropped her pretzel in the water, tried to go look for it in the cold ice water, never came back. We looked at each other and carried on. I m not supposed to be doing this.. We should wait for the rest. No! let us carry on. His hunch back and draggin attire could be followed by the scared eyes behind him. I questioned and he looked back once, never again. Come to us! The wolfs didn’t even look at us when we passed them — a pack of thirsty and hungry things. I cant stop yet, 10 dkd,, no no no no no 21 ! yes stop .. but the tree willow fell at once. Nose.”

    Reply
    • Blake Powell

      Hey, thanks for sharing. Very cool – I find recording my stream of consciousness helps get all the random thoughts onto paper and then I can sort them out later. They’re the very definition of imperfection and I think that’s why so many writers embraced them like Stein and Joyce afte the eras of much more formal writing!

      It also helps to know that you’re the only one that’s going to see most of your first drafts, unless you choose to share them with others or I coerce you into doing it 😉
      I have many unfinished drafts on my computer that may never see the light of day, but that’s okay. They’re just for me, and whoever I choose to share them with.

      Write on!

      Reply
  23. Jessie Vallimont

    This is good advice. I’m fairly new to writing and have slowly over time gotten better. I mostly write with my best friend who teaches me ways to be better. We are working on a novel together. I have been getting stuck on my descriptions of places, people, etc. I read these other things and I can’t paint a scene with words like that yet. I have good moments but they aren’t consistent yet.

    Reply
      • Jessie Vallimont

        It’s a complicated process for us but that’s just how we delved into it. We role play the main characters back and forth along with the other secondary characters and then I have slowly been merging them together to create the actual novel. We’ve gotten better with it as we go because now when we write, if we know whose perspective we will use for that section, we will add to each other’s paragraphs and distinguish it by color. Things we want to insert later (descriptions, names we can’t think of, etc) we highlight in a different color. Like I said, complicated but that’s just how we bumbled into it.

        For the story itself we purposely left the timeline vague so that gives us room to play around with things a bit as we go, while developing our characters and storyline.

        Like my best friend said, improving descriptions so that the reader can envision the scene is something that people always struggle to improve so I guess more time and practice are in order lol.

        Reply
        • Blake Powell

          Interesting – it’s really cool to see the different writing processes people have and I’m glad that yours is working for you.

          Yes, practice helps, but a lot of the time the description will hit you when you least expect it, and as long as you keep plugging away at the main storyline it should come to you after edits and such.

          Thanks for your reply, and write on! 🙂

          Reply
  24. Melanie

    Thank you, this was a very helpful and encouraging article. I find that I often feel unmotivated to write simply because I don’t want to write something I don’t like! But often times the good stuff comes after free writing the not-so-good. Maybe this is a root of “writer’s block”- not a lack of creativity but fear of the unknown. Best wishes with your writing!

    Reply
    • Blake Powell

      Hi Melanie,

      You’re very welcome. I’m glad I could help. As Anne Lamott says in her book “Bird by Bird”, sometimes we need to write pages and pages of not-so-good stuff until we hit the gold mine. Depends on the day, really 😛

      I think the problem doesn’t come from a lack of ideas or even a want to sit down at the desk itself, but from the inner struggle we feel that we’re not good enough somehow, and not qualified enough to share our ideas with other people. Who are we to sit down and write, and act like writers?

      As Steven Pressfield says in his book “The War of Art”, this inner “Resistance” plagues us and will do anything to stop us from dong our work, but we have to sit down and let it know who is boss and write. Then as it runs away sniveling, we can profess our greatness (only kidding). Really, in the end, the hard part is not the writing itself or even sitting down, but doing the work – but that in itself is how we turn “pro” and dare to call ourselves writers, because we write.

      Thanks for your comment, and write on!

      Reply
  25. Joy Parker

    Thank you for this piece, Jeff Goins!

    Reply
  26. Blake Powell

    Hey Susan, thanks for your reply, and I’m glad the exercise helped 🙂

    I used to be all about paper books, but lately I’ve been switching to audiobooks and my Kindle, I find them more convenient and easy to keep track of with highlighting in the cloud and taking notes as I go. Strange how the mind shifts like that over time, haha.

    Reply
    • susan mccann

      A good point Blake, I also use Kindle and colour coding to highlight. I agree with you, we should always try and keep up with new tech that enhance our lives.
      However a library of paper books, still has great value. I just love picking up a book at random and flicking through it for bitesized reminders of useful information. If an ebook is good, I’ll often buy the paperback version.
      Yes Blake your exercise does work. It’s a great habit to develop.

      Reply
      • Blake Powell

        There’s definitely pros either way, and you’re right as there’s nothing quite like having a book in your hand. I used to really want a library of every book I’ve ever read, though, and that’s not really what I want anymore.

        I think owning books I want to reread and keep around is more beneficial. Not every book is a good one, and ebooks and audiobooks can help in the process from sorting through the good and the bad.

        Thanks again for engaging Susan 🙂

        Reply
  27. Mark Tong

    very good advice – worth bookmarking

    Reply
  28. LilianGardner

    I am just like you. Always polishing my manuscript, rewriting sentences to get them to be better, and meet with the reader’s approval.

    Reply

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