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Everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. ~Sylvia Plath

Writing Innocence, Where Have You Gone? — The Adult’s Writer’s Block (And How To Get Rid Of It)

Posted in Freelanc-ink, Thoughts On Writing10 Comments

The secret to a high word count Read her, please!

Why write for money? I want to write for Love! I want to cry along my characters, be their shade as they walk down the streets of their imaginary world. I want to write because one day, when I’ll be older, my children and grandchildren can have a piece of me to keep forever, a piece that will be part of my family’s history.  Who cares if it doesn’t make money. I write because I can, and because it’s my dream.

That was me. At 13.

It was 1998, the year I spent rewriting a novel I wrote in primary school, one based on the crossover/remake of the Transformers cartoon series and a Japanese anime called Gordian. A novel I pitched to an important Italian publisher— completely unaware of copyright issues. Actually, I didn’t even know what copyright was. I just had fun writing.

That novel got rejected (of course), but it sealed my commitment to getting published, one day.

So I kept writing. If not every day, at least twice a week.

But the entrance into adult age changed something. The magic was lost, even though I didn’t want it to. The adult world pressured me to ‘do things for money’ so much that I started to feel guilty every time I approached a project out of pure genuine interest, either it involved money or not. I began to drop projects based on pay.

Was that the right thing to do?

My writing muse screams ‘NO’.

The Fundamental Cause Behind Adult Writer’s Block

As a kid, the only thing that would cause me to put writing projects on hold was going to school and getting homework done. Or having to go out with my parents on family trips that didn’t involve time for writing. But as an adult, I found myself getting blocked for a different reason (plus a gazillion smaller silly ones):

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Am I really good enough to even begin this project?

Or put in other terms: What right do I have – me, a lowly writer whose English is not even her first language – to submit my stupid ideas to important publications?

The ‘important publication’ could be a blog, an e-zine, a newsletter, a print magazine, a short-story anthology. Anything. Even the lowest paying small circulation magazine or blog would appear too important in my eyes.

Where did my writing innocence go? Why am I unable to ‘just write’ without having crazy internal editors get in the way? There was no editor who could stop me at 13. There are way too many to deal with now.

Recover That Writing Innocence Before It’s Too Late

If you read this far, you might be on my same boat. You need to recover that writing innocence from your childhood if you want to further your writing career and be successful at what you do. There’s more than one way to subject yourself to ‘writing therapy’, but remember that no method will work until you make it a commitment to heal fast and get your writing muse back.

1. Pen and paper in hand, close your eyes and write. Who cares if you overwrite your own words, go overboard or if your handwriting looks more like a kindergarten kid’s first attempt at writing? What counts is that you hiss your consciousness and just follow the trail of your thoughts. When you are done, put pen and paper away (without looking at it) and do something else. Later, grab your paper and edit. There might be food for more than one article, short-story or newsletter inside those ‘crappy’ lines.

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2. Write wherever your heart commands. If that’s the white border of your daily newspaper, that’s fine. If that’s the back of your grocery shop receipt, go for it. If that’s the palm of your own hand, it’s no problem (just make sure you can wash it away!). Don’t make time for writing, just write. It can be as urgent as food when you’re starving.

3. Don’t wait for an editor’s response. Write away! I realize this goes against all the advice you’ve heard about focusing your efforts on tasks at hand when freelance writing, but sometimes waiting means losing the momentum and the joy for the piece you want to write. So, don’t wait for your editor’s ‘go ahead’ to start writing! As freelance writer Christina Katz says in her her book Writer Mama, prewrite your features! And not just those, but fillers, columns and blog posts, too. That is how the post you’re reading was written— straight from the heart. And refined, edited later.

4. Use a tape or mp3 recorder (or your cellphone recording function) to note down your ideas. This is no new advice for freelance writers, but it turns out incredibly helpful when you want to get rid of your internal editors and just let your writing muse speak. Free! You’ll have time to put your vocal notes in order later.

5. Make (or leave) your notepads as messy as you can. Trying to write orderly when you’re noting down ideas and outlines only hinders your ability to write freely and it freezes any new idea twist or slant you had been working on inside your mind. Keep your innocence alive, let it make your heart pound!

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And be a child again. You need it. :)

What do you do to feed your writing innocence?

Image credit mpclemens via Compfight

10 responses to “Writing Innocence, Where Have You Gone? — The Adult’s Writer’s Block (And How To Get Rid Of It)”

  1. Mandi Pope says:

    What a beautiful article, and so true! I, too, lost some of the “creative innocence” I once possessed like my mother here. (Like mother, like daughter, it would seem!) I now have too many questions, mostly “is this good enough? Am I even good enough? Who cares about what I have to say/draw?” (I’m an artist, but this little trap DOES cross between writers and artists alike, trust me!)

    I never considered “being messy” as a means of garnering ideas. That’s unique, I’m going to try it, I’m a wee bit hesitant, being a freak for organization at least in my work space, but I think it has serious potential. I’ll “let myself go” and “be a kid,” because kids really don’t put that much thought into WHERE they work or the conditions of which they write/draw/create in — they merely create, and maybe that’s what I need to do to recapture that which was lost.

    Wonderful article, Mommy! I love love LOVE it… but as always, I love YOU even more!

    Your daughter,
    Mandi Pope

    • My sweet Mandi,

      As long as you can let your muse ‘run’ in complete freedom, you won’t lose your writing innocence. :) And if it’s dormant, the 5 exercises above can help. I tried them all myself, with my daily writing. Never doubt your skills during the creative process; there’s time for criticism and edits later. It’s like wearing a different hat at each writing stage.

      Being ‘messy’ helps freeing yourself, letting go of the chains. Like kids: they write and draw and color and scatter their things all around, but when they clean up their work later… it shines!

      Love,
      ~ Luana S.
      Luana Spinetti recently posted..7 Get-Out Remedies To Unending InterruptionsMy Profile

  2. Anne Wayman says:

    ah yes, keep that channel open… good one.
    Anne Wayman recently posted..‘Round-the-World Copyright – Is It Possible?My Profile

  3. Hi Luana,

    Nice reminder to hold on to that child writer in me.
    We have to keep nurturing it so she won’t lose her innocence.

    I also gained insights regarding the writer’s block, I never had before. Perhaps you want to see some other views regarding how to solve the problem of having a creative block in my post ” The cure to writer’s block: go back to the well”.

    Totally enjoyed it Luana,

    Anthony
    Anthony Dejolde recently posted..Be Bold, Write Sexy ArticlesMy Profile

  4. Somethings happens when you stop looking at others and go back to originality. While others may spark your imagination, in the end you already know the ideas you will end up liking best. Your own.
    Stop comparing. None knows your journey but you.
    Rose :: Fine Craft Guild .com recently posted..Ladder BookshelvesMy Profile

    • Thanks for your insights, Rose. :)

      There’s a reason if ancient writers used to be so original: there was no Internet, little connections (apart from a few small writer’s circles) and little chance to compare themselves to other writers. The result was genuine, spontaneous work that didn’t run with the current trend, but it brought innovation.

      Ancient writers were entrepreneurs more than ordinary freelancers.

      Today’s business world can be different, but the spark of creativity shouldn’t be subject to today’s trends.

  5. […] you write small books and essays from age 10, you know you’re never really going to give up on your passion. As I grew up, a hobby that […]

  6. […] you write small books and essays from age 10, you know you’re never really going to give up on your passion. As I grew up, a hobby that […]

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