Anon asked: “I get all these plot ideas in my head, but I really struggle
with writing them down in words, to sit down and actually write, partly because
I usually think too much whenever I try to write (like how the grammar is and
how it sounds etc) and I always think it all sounds so slow and boring when I
write my ideas down… which leads me to just “write” the story in my
head instead of actually writing it :/. Do you’ve any advice on how to stop
doing that? Because it’s really frustrating!”
Originally a question for It’s a Writer Thing, but it was decided that answering it on this blog would be better for the less technical answer and the more actionable answer!
This answer will cover two reasons why my suggestion works, and one alternative if you don’t like the first piece of advice.
- You Need to Stop Caring So Much
Your main problem is you’re overthinking things, which is natural, because you want this scene to be perfect. As perfect as it was in your head, and every moment it doesn’t do that, you become more frustrated and your creativity is more stifled.
Those grammar and word choices worries aren’t about grammar or word choice – it’s your mind battling with the cosmic issue of scientists not getting off their butts and creating a device that projects thoughts onto paper yet. There’s nothing wrong with your writing. You have created an impeccable scene in your head, and the more impeccable it is, the more dissatisfied you’ll be with writing it.
- So, the solution:
Drink wine. No, seriously. Carve out an evening to yourself, put on some music that inspires you to write or that serves as the background music of a scene you want, get a glass of wine (or three), and sit down.
Drink the first glass of wine.
Play the music and start brainstorming the scene. Let it play out in your head. Let yourself get a little crazy in the details because you’re not writing yet, you’re brainstorming.
If you smoke, have a cigarette, and start on the second glass of wine.
Now start writing.
- Why This Works
Wine takes the edge off. Stronger alcohol can work too, because it’s called liquid courage for a reason. It makes you stop CARING so much if it’s perfect, so that your mind can relax enough to actually write the scene as good as it can be. If you drink too much, then you’ll have problems with the keys, so know your own limit and drink just until you just have that nice buzz that makes you not so upset if this draft turns out less than satisfactory.
Trust me, when you look at it later, it will be 80% better than you thought it’d be.
- The Sectioned Off Evening Itself Does Wonders
Knowing that you are just messing around with the scene for the next few hours – that it doesn’t have to be perfect; that it doesn’t have to be really anything, since you’re just having an enjoyable writing session – will take half the edge off.
You’re not here to do miracles – you’re here to chill out with a nice glass of wine and enjoy yourself! Even if you just brainstorm it in your head and write down notes to fill out later, that’s for later! You accomplished something. Good for you.
- If You Don’t Drink
That’s fine. I’m not telling anyone to start drinking if they don’t like it, or encouraging alcoholics to fall off the bandwagon for the sake of a scene. … unless it’s a really good scene.
The key is to chill out. So whatever makes you relax, calm down, and cast off the more anxious side of yourself, do it.
If you smoke, have a cigarette. Or five.
If you like a warm bath, get a notebook and try your best to keep it dry, or if you have nerves of steel, take your chances with the laptop.
If chocolate eases your nerves, get a bag of Hersey’s Kisses and go for it.
Just remember that you have to not only kill that usual tension that life brings, but you have to go one step further to make your inner critic decide to quiet down for the night.
- To Wrap Around
The key is to calm down. Then calm down some more. Calm down clear to the point where your “give a damn” function is disabled for the night. You can accomplish some pretty amazing things when you don’t care so much. Then the scene at least has words on it – and you can always work with a bad scene, but never a nonexistent scene.
Hope this helps!