I've always wanted to be a writer. However, I never really thought it was possible. I just wasn't very good at it, and when I tried to write it was a frustrating experience. My sentences lacked clarity and often what I wrote was not at all what I had intended to say.
At first, when I sat down to write, I often struggled to find the right words – or any words, for that matter. Whether it be a noun, a verb, an adjective or adverb, I had a strong sense of what I wanted to write, but the words simply wouldn't make themselves available in that moment.
It was as if in the very moment of my writing, the necessary access to my vocabulary, my library of words squirrelled away in the recesses of my brain, became temporarily closed. Thus becoming a significant barrier to my dream of ever becoming a writer.
I lost hope in every being able to create writing that others would want to read and enjoy doing so. I was stuck, end of story. I simply couldn't get past this stage of the writing process. I thought I needed to know more words, yet this didn't help. I bought apps and books and read countless blog posts. All to no avail. Time and time again I was caught in the sentence. Unsure of how to say what it was I really wanted to say.
Then I read a blog post...
Ever since I'd registered for a free book on writing tips from the author and online tutor, Jerry Jenkins, I'd been receiving emails from him advertising writing resources available on his website. On day I received this. So, I duly clicked on the link, and proceeded to read with interest.
Of particular note was the following taken from Jerry's site:
While writing your first draft, take off your Perfectionist cap and turn off your internal editor.
This simple advice was an eye-opener for me. Could I really just write without worrying about the actual words I was writing? It sounded crazy, but at the same time perfectly logical. I could just write. I could write what I thought I wanted to say and then come back and perform the editing, changing what I had written into something I wanted to say, afterwards.
This worked well for a while. I would happily tap away at the keyboard and write all sorts of material. However, it didn't work for long. You see, when I came back to the editing process I would find myself having to perform lots and lots of heavy editing just to make my sentences grammatically correct. The raw sentences were just too far from the finished article. The editing processes became a real chore and I was often left frustrated at how inefficient this was becoming.
Soon, I lost heart in the 'just write' concept and I was back to being stuck, not knowing what the hell I should write. It felt like I was back to square one.
Then one day while searching online for inspiration I came across a quote attributed to the great American author, Ernest Hemingway.
Commenting on the problem of writer's block, Hemingway said:
All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know. I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there…If I started to write elaborately, or like someone introducing or presenting something, I found that I could cut that scrollwork or ornament out and throw it away and start with the first true simple declarative sentence I had written.
This, combined with the advice from Jerry Jenkins was the revelation that I was seeking. Yes, sit down and write, but when you do so make sure that each sentence is true.
I realised I could write, maybe not beautifully, maybe not with much post editing, but enough to begin to feel like a productive writer.
So, my advice to anyone reading this article is to just write simple sentences. First one, then another and another. Soon, very soon you'll have the bones of a great piece of writing that will say to your readers exactly what you want to say.
It worked for me, it can work for anyone.