For years, I pasted a little card on my typewriter with “DDT” on it. The DDT meant “Do, Don’t Think.” Writers think too much, and it cripples your creativity, as well as making writing harder than it needs to be.
Maybe I got the DDT idea from Ray Bradbury; I might well have done:
Ray Bradbury, often said that conscious thought is poisonous to the creative process, and that true creativity springs from the unconscious mind. In a 1975 speech, he said, “I have had a sign by my typewriter for the better part of twenty years, now, which says, ‘Don’t think.’
Wherever I got it, whether it was a sudden insight or advice, it works. When I’m working with my writing students, I invariably suggest that they’re over-thinking something or other.
Sit, and write: just start writing
Around 1983, I got an Apple IIe computer, and stuck the DDT card above the keyboard. It took a LONG time to break myself of the habit of over-thinking everything. I used a red marker pen on the back of a business card to create my little cards; I’d create a new card every few months when the old one got tattered.
Since over-thinking cripples your creativity, what if you didn’t over-think, if you just trusted your subconscious mind and WROTE?
I’m sure you could write an ebook in a week:
Day 1. Brain Dump: Write As Much As You Can As Fast As You Can
Day One is lots of fun. You’ve got your topic, and no matter what that topic is, you know much more about it that you think you do.
It’s time to get all that information onto paper.
Of course, you can do your brain dumps on your computer, but I prefer to write this initial material by hand. I’m more relaxed, and I can cheery-pick important concepts from a mass of material.
Our theme this coming week: ebooks and prep for NaNoWriMo
NaNoWriMo starts in three weeks. If you’re participating this year, it’s time to get ready.
NaNoWriMo has a huge benefit for writers; it gets you into the habit of writing without thinking about it too much. You’ll discover that you can trust your subconscious mind. If you just sit and start tapping away without a slew of expectations, your subconscious mind gets in on the act, and does a great job. And it’s easy… what’s not to like about that?
I’ve got a theory about writers who find writing “hard”. I’m not denigrating anyone; I found writing tortuous for years. All these years later, I’m surprised all that anxiety didn’t give me a heart attack, and I’ve no idea why I persisted.
Here’s what’s true for me: whenever I start worrying or think a project is “hard,” it means that I’ve lost trust in my subconscious mind. I want to create with the logical part of my mind. That’s a lost cause. You can’t think your way into creativity.
Sit at the keyboard. Relax (or try to, anyway), and just start tapping those keys. Try the “ebook in a week” strategy too. It works.
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