There is a dragon called “Procrastination.”
He wants to turn Great Ideas into ashes – permanently unwritten. Never to be read by anyone…
Do you know? There is only one way to slay this dragon – only one way to make your blank pages run black with words. This is the ultimate weapon against Procrastination.
Our writer’s code is simple, but it is one all us writers and professional authors abide by. It all starts some variation of this mantra:
“Write, and be reckless.”
Here’s what will happen when you adopt the Writer’s Code as your own:
Slay Your Inner Editor
There he stands, under the tunnel of branches and green leaves. The first guardian. He who would silence you, and keep you from ever finishing your masterpiece.
Black armor clanks as the Internal Editor sets his feet on the wet gravel, blocking your way.
You must fight this Black Knight. And you must slay him. But you can not do it in pieces.
Severed limbs do not slow him down – instead, each wound only makes him fight harder. You can not say, “I will stop editing for a few paragraphs or pages.” Nor can you promise yourself that you will return once you’ve finished a chapter or two.
When you kill your internal editor, you must do it entirely – in one, determined stroke…
Here is What You Must Do, oh, Brave Writer:
Decide to silence your internal editor, once and for all.
Do not fear; this Black Knight can never truly die. Your editor will always come back.
But for your first draft of anything, you must dig a 6-foot hole, knock him out, and plant your editor FULLY into that grave.
No going back. Do not change words you wrote an hour ago.
Go back and leave notes if you must, but do not get stuck changing new words, or you will summon HIM. And he will claw his way out of the grave, and mount his ghostly steed, and he will gallop towards you with his sword of DOUBT held high.
Commit, thou Brave Writer. Slay your inner editor, and let your words reign free, un-tethered by “correction” and un-caged by “improvement.”
Perfectionism is Procrastination in disguise.
End the Tyranny of Writer’s Block
In the shadows of a dark valley rests a ghostly castle. It shimmers and wavers as you approach.
Gaze upon it, and know that it is not real.
Yet, how have millions of writers died at the castle’s gates?
You can still hear their banshee moans and spectral screams rising up from the valley. An outcry of eternal frustration.
They could not climb the walls. They will never finish.
What’s worse is the number of writers who have made it past this wicked place, those who made it out alive…
…only to return because they were afraid they forgot something. I will tell you more about them in a moment…
But first, you must know this:
The only way beyond the castle called Writer’s Block is forward.
You, Brave Writer, have dedicated yourself to an impossible task. But you are not done, yet – and the doom gates of Writer’s Block may yet swallow you…
…unless you are smart. Or brave.
Either path will lead you to the same goal:
#1 – The Path of Foresight
The truth is, the ghosts that haunt this castle are blind. They can not see you, nor catch your scent.
Wise writer, you must have a plan to escape this castle’s icy clutches.
Nobody says you must rush through your writer’s block in a single moment. For some writers, that can be exhausting – and self-defeating.
You are a thinker. Maybe you always have a design, an idea, before you get started. Try this to overcome your walls:
- Set an objective
- Break it into the smallest possible piece
- Set a deadline for that first piece, then the second, and so on…
Here is an example of one of my recent plans:
I’m stuck on a scene with two characters who hate each other, but have the same motivation: to get past a locked door.
1. I know my objective, but I also want them to warm up to each other. The question is how?
2. So, I’ll break it down into the emotional beats:
- Character A is frustrated they can’t break down a door.
- Character B offers to help, but A is too proud to accept. Instead he kicks the door – and winds up sprawled on the floor.
- B pulls out a lock-picking set, and cracks the door open in seconds.
- This lets me create a moment of warmth between the two characters
3. Now, my deadline is to finish this scene the next time I write. My session doesn’t end until AT LEAST this scene is written, and I’ve figured out where I’m going with the next scene.
Inch by inch, plan by plan, this is one way you can creep past the Writer’s Block.
The ghosts won’t suspect a thing. They’re too busy lapping up the tears of self-pitying writers who went in without a plan.
#2 – The Path of Urgency
There is no path across the valley, except through the ghastly gates of the Writer’s Block.
You are a dreamer. You know what you want the moment it flits across your vision.
Trust your vision, and trust your dreams. Run headlong into the Castle, past the broken battlements and through the courtyard littered with broken bones and unfinished books.
Write recklessly. Word sprints will be the breath in your lungs, the strength in your limbs.
You may trip and fall, but it does not matter to you – because the ghosts are chasing you (or do you chase them?) and there is no chance to stop. No time to stay down.
Grab a timer. Set a time. And write. How many words you can finish?
I can’t tell you how many hundreds of thousands of words I’ve written in word sprints. You are going to love the feeling, the freedom.
And soon, those ghostly gates will be many leagues behind you…
Heed Not the Dragon Who Calls You Back…
When you are working on a first draft, you should burn every bridges you cross.
If you escape the Writer’s Block, you must not return.
Too many times, I have seen writers “have an epiphany” about their plot or some character… when they’re 20k words past the source of the problem.
Do you return to the start to fix it?
No, this is an ancient trap. One that millions have fallen in before you, and most writers never escape.
When you are in the middle of your writing project, and you burn to make some great change that will entirely revamp your writing project, do this instead:
- Make a detailed note of your gigantic fix
- Promise yourself you will come back to it on your next draft.
- Then, keep writing with the fix in mind. Pretend you had already written the book 100% perfectly up to this point – pretend you had already included your giant fix.
Otherwise, you will get caught in a cycle of epiphanies that will destroy your writing progress.
…and the Black Knight Will Never Stay Dead
Remember this, too:
Your internal editor will always be there, at the end of your journey, waiting for you.
His sword is double-edged:
On the one side, you need your Black Knight. Editing is the writer’s most valuable tool.
One day, when you have finish your first draft, you will use your him to cut swathes through your own words… and reveal the masterpiece within.
But on the other side, if you do not commit to killing your Black Knight in your first draft, he will follow you everywhere.
He will catch at your heels. He will drag you down. And you may never reach your writing goals.
Write and Be Reckless, You Valiant Knight
When you first create, understand this:
Nothing will be perfect. Every idea is terrible until you’ve written it down. Once you’ve written them, perhaps only 90% of those ideas will be terrible.
…but the 10% that remain will be magnificent.
Then you will write your second draft, and the third, each time adding greatness to your foundation.
Conclusion | Like Battle Before Dawn…
Before the sun rises, before you can even see the foothills and the trees, you ride to battle.
You will charge at a dragon you can not see. You must write recklessly, oh, Brave Writer.
Go forth and slay your dragons.
Thank you for reading. This article was a test of recklessness for myself. What do you think? Did you find this helpful?
Please comment below so I can know if this helped you.