Do you remember how easy it was to tell a story when you were a kid?
All you had to do was pick up two mismatched socks (at least mine were anyway) and create a simple, silly narrative around Mr. and Mrs. Stripey-Sock.
And back in those days, you always had an audience sitting on the edge of their seats.
That’s right: good old mom and dad believed you were a best-selling novelist even at age five. In fact, my parents would still give me a standing ovation at 27 even if I used Mr. and Mrs. Stripey-Sock to this day, bless their hearts.
So, what changed? Your audience expanded beyond easy-to-please mom and dad. Your less forgiving, more intimidating audience feasted for a story far more satisfying than the romantic comedy ‘unfolding’ in the laundry room.
That pressure caused you to scrutinize every word you wrote. And eventually, writing stories became complicated.
Writers must experience growth, so ditching the simple “pair of socks” narrative is good for your craft. But should you completely abandon your childish impulses when it comes to storytelling? How can saving one specific childish impulse keep writer’s block at bay?
The true source of all writer’s block
If you’re anything like me (a writer with a tea IV), then you’ve experienced writer’s block before without understanding why.
The root of all writer’s block comes from doubt.
We doubt that our characters, our scene, our plot, etc. makes sense, and is likewise unique to the reader. Doubt keeps us from tackling the scene we’re struggling with, head on. The more we question our story, the more we abandon our true self.
When we solely focus on writing a story that will satisfy the mainstream audience, we lose our connection to our unique voice and childlike freedom in creativity. And that’s the aspect of our childhood we need to keep very much alive.
So how do we do it? How do we get back in touch with the fearless creative we once were and rediscover our unique writing voice?
Through this one simple trick.
Five minutes of freedom
Take out a piece of paper or open up a new word document.
Set a timer for five minutes (but keep it out of your field of vision).
For those five minutes, write every single thought that comes to your mind. Don’t edit a single word. Don’t allow your brain to automatically correct grammar, spelling, sentence structure or cohesiveness for a moment.
That’s right: for five minutes, be a kid, and dump your mind onto the page.
Write about anything from a grocery list, to a brand new novel. This five minutes is your hot yoga, baby, and you’ve got to get in touch with your most honest thoughts.
But, you’re probably wondering, “How the heck will this help me unlock my creative self?”
See, after five minutes have passed, you may read your work and realize it’s lunacy. You may scoff and toss this technique aside. Would you be right to do so?
Resuscitate your unique voice
When I first tried this trick, I admit I hated it. Yet over time, I became hooked. I discovered that fear of judgement buried my voice more than six feet under.
See, as writers, we’re taught to structure our voice. But it’s all too easy to let fear of failure bury your unique writing voice, unintentionally. Try this process for at least a month and you’ll discover the voice buried deep within.
Thanks to this technique, I reignited my passion for writing and rebuilt trust in my unique voice. I discovered that readers love honesty so I am happy to let my voice take the reins more often. Now, I can clearly sense when doubt and fear begins to cripple my creative flow. Creating unique fantasy worlds and interesting characters, is fun once again.
And when doubt starts to suffocate my voice again, I take out that timer, open up that word document and do a little nod to that toothy kid with a pair of mismatched socks on her hands.
What about you? Is there a technique you implement in your writing routine which keeps you connected to the page? Let me know in the comments section below, I’d love to try out your techniques!