Debunking Writer’s Block: Your Writing Must Be Functional (Part 2)

To break through the block that you’re experiencing, try this simple formula:

  1. Write without stopping, no matter what.
  2. Stay in the present; perceive, don’t judge.
  3. Focus where you want to go.

These are the fundamentals of depth freewriting.

Write without stopping. Continue moving forward, even if:

  • you don’t know what you want to say
  • you don’t like what you’re writing
  • your writing isn’t any good
  • you write nonsense or get off-topic
  • you feel stuck and all you can do is repeat random phrases over and over again

You can flow with it and you will get someplace better.

For whatever reason, we seem to have the opposite belief drilled into us, something to the effect of:

If you don’t already know what you’re going to say, then don’t begin to write.

You need to know everything you want to say. It needs to be phrased well and everything needs to come out in the right order.

It’s as if we expect our writing to be instantly functional.

If you’re programming something, entering commands into a machine or telling your dog what you want him to do,
you have to say what you want clearly and in the correct order and with correct syntax.

Maybe less so with the dog, but the point is: creative writing is a process. You have to actually engage the process to get anything to happen. The process is creative — anything is bound to happen. We cannot control what will happen or decide in advance how things are going to be. That’s part of the fun of the adventure: it leads to the unexpected, to discoveries.

It leads there, but it doesn’t always begin there.

Maybe there is a way of implementing freewriting so that it can inform something functional like web development — I do not doubt that there could be — but it would come as a different phase.

What you freewrite would not necessarily be perfectly formed code.

Freewriting is best when in ordinary language — English or Klingon or whatever comes most directly for you.

From that written material, later, you could pull any necessary logic or nuances of function that you could translate into code.

Writers block themselves because they believe that all communication needs to be functional and correct and polished as soon as it comes out.

This is actually rarely the case with any communication.

We are not as direct as we think we are.

I’m not, and neither are you. And that’s a good thing.

When you’re having a conversation, when is it that you immediately get to the point, then immediately move to the next point — and on and on, solidly‚Ķ and with nothing but correct use of grammatical rules?

This just doesn’t happen. It would be a heartless and mechanical form of existence. We’re human. We perambulate, we feel things out, we adjust to very real flows of feeling and empathy, the currents of thought — they are there, they really exist, and they fundamentally affect how we communicate.

It does not make our communication less effective because we are not always immediately correct or functional or direct. On the contrary, being present to the nuances behind what we want to say and what is immediately available to us vitalizes our communication.

When communication is about a feeling, or to evoke a space or to convey some nuance, it is seldom that the thing itself can be directly named. The named thing only gains its life in the context of what surrounds it.

And often we ourselves do not yet know what the essential kernel we wish to say — not until we start speaking, start writing. Not until we enter the flow and feel ourselves and the other person and the topic from that space.

It can also be because, like the punchline of a joke, even when we know exactly what is being driven towards, it will only land right when it has all the necessary buildup. Rhythm and timing are a crucial part of communication.

Writers do well when we put or trust in these factors which can seem utterly mysterious to the ordinary mind.

Here is to writing that is vital and full of heart.

Leave a comment