I'm Abe Wolfgang, an Electrical Engineer, writer, Father, husband, and full-time lover of story. I blog about those stories, how they impact us as humans, and why they are important. Occasionally I write my own as well.

This is NOT About Writer's Block

This is NOT About Writer's Block

I’m pretty sure that staring at a blank page is unhealthy, yet I have been doing just that for some time now. Sometimes inspiration, an idea, even a fleeting thought is there, and sometimes it is not. That's not really my problem, though. If anything I have too many ideas, too many thoughts, too much going on in my head to be able to sort it out and start getting things down on paper.

What do I do in this situation? Well, the first step is always to admit that I have a problem. Check.

There is really only one course of action to dealing with too many thoughts, for me at least, and that is to just start typing and see what comes out. Maybe it’s good, and maybe it’s horribly bad, but that’s all right because with technology today I don’t have to worry about wasting paper on bad ideas. All I would end up with is an extra file to throw into my “maybe someday (and that is a big maybe)” folder. The only downside I can see is the time it takes to write something that might be useless to me. Even in that case I am able to get some thoughts out of my head to make room for the good ones, so it's not really a downside.

The other side of this coin is that it is impossible, or perhaps improbable, that I would have a good idea without plenty of bad ideas to go along with it. After all, how can I classify something as “good” if I have never written anything “terribly bad.” This is precisely how I feel about my first concerted attempt at writing. I had never written anything that had looked like a novel, so what I thought was going well was actually just a rambling, plotless pile of drivel.

But that's ok.

How could I expect to write anything truly good without getting the bad ideas out of my system? What I initially was really excited about writing, and thought was a great idea for a story, did not turn out to hold up. Part of the problem is that, like many novice writers, I was (and still do) discovery writing. Discovery writing is the process of discovering the story and plot-line while writing, and could be called the polar opposite of outlining (which I am sure that you are familiar with from school). I’m not saying that this is a bad thing, just that I was bound to end up with a much rougher rough draft this way.

Don't get me wrong, I will probably end up recycling some of that original story into something, as I do believe that there are some good parts, and themes that I would like to return to in the future. I may even, if I ever get around to reading the thing all the way through, decide to overhaul it and keep the same theme, setting, characters, etc. The truth is, either way I proceed brings me closer to my goal. Everything that I write, good or bad, strengthens my writing muscles and makes me that much better.

So if you find yourself, like I have, staring at that blank screen or project that has yet to begin, maybe you just need to start. Just write anything. Take the smallest possible first step towards your goal/dream, and see what happens.

How to Become Good at LITERALLY Anything

How to Become Good at LITERALLY Anything

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