It used to happen to me most of the time.
I got the idea for my next article and I just put it in my topic list.
Feeling excited, as I knew what I had to write. Thinking I will nail this article. This will be the one that will bring me the readers. This will be the one that will get approved by the editors.
So, with the same energy, I dash at my computer to write … but it was time for dinner, and when, after having the food, I finally sat down to write…
I can’t put my thoughts into words anymore.
As if I have run out of words. As if I don’t even know the language.
That was such a brilliant idea, but why I can’t express it. I always used to feel this. Always shut down the computer in frustration and leaving room to do something else.
There are many writers on the platform who shares my pain in this.
And I used to always wonder, how other people are doing it, how come they use so exact words that express the idea so clearly.
All wannabe writers think that ‘Getting ideas’ is the problem.
But actual writers know that it’s not getting ideas but it is the execution of ideas that is the problem.
The problem with writing is that it’s an art, not science. And unlike science, it doesn’t follow any specific rules or laws.
There is no LEGO method for writing.
A Lego puzzle comes with instructions on how to assemble those small parts into a beautiful toy. It may seem chaotic at first look, but you know will get to the result as long as stick to the instructions.
In that, not only you have to create those small parts by yourself, but you also have to find your own way of joining those parts into a beautiful piece of content. You don’t even know the result here. Sometimes it’s just invisible even in the end as it was in the beginning.
So, how did I get rid of this frustration?
And how did I turn myself into a productive writer?
And more specifically, how did I put these fleeting thoughts on paper?
Well, after writing consistently for a whole month, and scouring through dozens of writing books, I think I finally have the answer to this problem.
Turns out it’s very easy to express your ideas in writings. It all depends on what are you into…carpentering, Masoning, or free wandering.
So let me show you how to put your thoughts into words
The Carpenter Method
In his book “A Writer’s Coach” Jack Hart solved this puzzle through a carpenter analogy.
He said that while building any piece of furniture, a carpenter doesn’t perfect the parts first and then join them to build new furniture.
Instead, he set up an entire rough framework, then make the parts, nail them together, and then try to perfect it by making some finishing touches.
Separate the processes of creation from improving.
You can’t write and edit, or sculpt and polish, or make and analyze at the same time.
If you do, the editor stops the creator.
…While you invent, don’t select.
…when you sketch, don’t inspect.
…While you write the first draft, don’t reflect.
At the start, “the creator’s mind must be unleashed from judgment.”
Earlier, in my writing, I used to commit the same mistake of trying to perfect one sentence before moving on to others.
Thus, got exhausted after writing only 2-3 paragraphs. But now I always try to simulate this carpenter method in my writing. I have divided my whole writing process into five parts.
1. Choose Topic and Research (> 15-30 mins)
2. Outlining (> 5mins)
3. Write Drunk (>60-90 mins)
4. Revise it to optimize the format of the article (>20 mins)
5. Edit it Sentence by Sentence. (>30mins)
So roughly in 2-3 hours per day, I can write 1 article per day.
Now one more thing is that I don’t do the whole process in a single sitting. As again it will lead to exhaustion. Even if you managed to sit for 3 hours and write the article. You will not have enough energy to do the next work.
So, research and outline your topics in the evening. And leave the writing part for the next morning. And after writing, you can do the editing part in the evening time. Thus, by spacing out these activities, you will be less exhausted and you will be able to other activities like studying, preparing for exams, etc.
The War of Art’s author Steven Pressfield also uses the same method to write his books. Though he likes to call it the “Clothesline Method” where the Tailor, cuts the clothes according to the size and then stitches it up according to the needs and desires of the customers.
Feels like a hell of a lot of rules to follow? Then you might be a Free spirit who doesn’t follow any rules at all.
2. The Free spirit.
In this method, you wander like a free spirit who doesn’t know where you want to go. Life memoirs, storytelling, life advice, relationship articles tend to come out better following this method.
Just write like a keyboard owes you money. Whatever comes to your mind, you write it. The more you write, the more you get money out of it. And then later, you can find the essence of your writing. Revise the content to build up the key idea and simply edit it sentence by sentence.
In his book “Writing Without Teacher” Peter Elbow praises this way as a panacea of all kinds of writer’s block. It helps you to write with more energy and emotion.
If you are trying to find your writing voice or develop a style, this is the method to get that.
In the words of Peter, you may use up a few more papers but you will chew up lesser pencils.
Personal TIP: - Writing is more fun when you are writing WITH FOUNTAIN Pen (Ink Pen) on paper.
And last but not the least
While carpenters like to work with framework and free spirits wanders freely, masons are the ones who like to edit on the go.
They try to make each part perfect before moving on to the others. Brick by brick, they put their content but also ensuring that each brick is aligned with the whole wall. And each wall aligned with the whole house.
In long-form writing (like writing books, novels, reports) this method of writing can be helpful. It will prevent you from deviating from your point. You don’t want to realize that you have gone off-topic 2000 words ago.
According to me, only experienced writers may thrive on this method. As for beginners like me, it will be a long and tedious process. Most of the time when I tried this, I got stuck somewhere, then exhausted and finally discouraged to leave that article where it is.
And what if you spend a hell of a lot of time in building a perfect paragraph, which later, you decided to scrape off.
So how did I find words to express my thoughts?
One thing I realized is that finding the right words is hard while writing the first draft. You better use the wrong words first and then keep editing it until you are satisfied. It takes several drafts to get those perfect words in sync with your writing.
So, WHAT’S THE BEST WAY
That I don’t know. For me, it’s the first two. Most of the writers mix up these strategies.
As writing requires both planning and an open mind…
And there is a fine line between planning and over-planning. You never want the plan to inhibit the natural flow of your work
You will need the process especially to get you moving when feel stuck but you will also need to feel the excitement of creating something new.
So, find your own balance between planning and openness.