The Drug of Choice for Writer's Block: Speed

Many authors subscribe to the belief that writer's block doesn't exist.  I attended a workshop by author Candace Havens last year, and she said that writer's block is simply author fear.  It's not a true block.  Although sometimes the struggle does feel like and honest to goodness wall in my brain, I tend to agree that it is wrapped up in my own fear and insecurity.


Photo by xavi talleda (click pic for link)


In this month's edition of the Romance Writer's Report from RWA, career coach Hillary Rettig wrote an article about overcoming writer's block.  She purports that one of the main causes of writer's "block" is perfectionism.  We obsess about every little thing and end up writing in fits and starts and procrastinating the rest of the time.  Um, has she been spying on me?  This is so my issue.  I talked about my perfectionism here.

So what is her suggested solution?  Speed.

She said productive writers have this in common.  They treat their writing as something they "do"--not think about.  They sit down without distractions and write.  That means no checking email, blogs, etc. as soon as you hit a tough spot in your story.

The second part of speed is not expecting to achieve the ultimate or most perfect work.  Perfection cannot be achieved, sometimes good enough really is good enough--especially in a first draft.

And lastly, she says that fast writers do not hold onto their drafts like they're guarding the Hope diamond.  Perfectionists don't want to hand over their draft to those beta readers until they feel like the book is ready for prime time.  This means we end up obsessively revising and spending way too much time on the work only to be devastated later when it comes back from critting with some major issue that we couldn't see because we were too emotionally involved.  Early beta readers can help point out issues and problems that you can fix upfront.

So her advice is to sit down, write, and don't hesitate, just keep writing.

This article definitely hit home for me.  I am so not Zen about my writing.  This is why NaNoWriMo always intimidates me.  I don't know how to write without going back and revising and questioning every little thing.  But maybe I should give this method a try.  It may mean more revising on the back end, but that's easier than just having two perfect chapters and a pile of blank pages to show after months of work.

So how about you?  Are you Zen about your writing--just doing it without hesitation?  Or are you a perfectionist who questions everything as you go?  Do you hold onto your first draft forever or just throw the ugly thing to your betas for help?

*info from article "Speed as an Antidote to Writer's Block" by Hillary Rettig, Romance Writer's Report February 2010*


**Today's Theme Song**
"Perfect" - Alanis Morrissette
(player in sidebar--go ahead, take a listen)