Stuck in Words

For years I have been blocking myself, looking for words, not forming content, doubting I can revise messy words of substance for the sound I want. I am stuck. I feel like I lack the ability to think like an intelligent human being. I feel dumb.

Sarah Bowman

Sarah Bowman, attended workshops, writing groups, read & write constantly, novel-in-progress

I’m looking at your question. I think it is very well articulated, well-worded. So I am not sure what you are afraid of. However, I am thinking if you stay stuck in words, you have very little command of language and nothing to lose. So forge ahead no matter how awkward you feel, and you will gain command—not lose it.

Write, then write some more, and keep on writing. Read, then read some more, and keep on reading. Learn the language inside out, backwards and forwards. If English is not your first language, as it is not my first language, this is especially important. Learning to write is learning a new language. Read what you want to write. Read for the pleasure of reading to make learning the language fun and easy. Go to our public library, find the kind of books you really enjoy, and read dozens of them. Write, knowing it will not get published, that it will land in the waste basket—or in these days of the Word Processor, delete it.

Be confident in the old writer’s adage that no writing is ever wasted. It is practice. It trains your brain to think like a writer, to take command of language. Even if the words don’t sound right, write them anyway. You can always go back and rewrite. Rewriting ten or twenty times is okay. I do it all the time. Outcome is important. How long it takes to get my piece perfect is not. But practice does make—if not perfect, then certainly easier. In the end, you may actually have a letter that will do excellent business or a publishable book. If it is a paper for school you wish to write, many of these tricks should be helpful, too.

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