Writer's hiccups

Moqheeta Mehboob is a School Development Consultant. She has worked on a national level to improve the teaching and learning quality at schools.


This article is addressed to those new writers who have so much to share and have always wanted to write but are stuck in the initial stages.

 

I should write. I need to write. I have to write. This is the most common chant many new writers repeat in their heads.


There are numerous budding writers who tell themselves every day that they should seriously start writing, but never get to sit down to do it. Call it procrastination, lack of zeal or lack of confi­dence, maybe a mixture of all these, they never seem to get done what they have always wanted to do.


I am sure it happens with many of us. When we are in the thick of a project, or preparing for exams, or in the midst of a much-focused activity, we get this itch to write something, something which at that moment appears to be of Shakespearean level to us. We feel we are the next J. K. Rowling in the making. How we wish to throw everything aside and sit with our laptop to click away all the bubbling thoughts that are dying to take shape. But then, we have to do what we have to do. And the present task is more important and time bound.


At times like these, when writing isn't a possibility, many people make a mental vow that the minute they ­finish the current task, the fi­rst thing they will do is sit and write. Just write away. Well, the project gets fi­nished, people take more than required languid mornings and lazy evenings but the laptop doesn't get to hear the click clack.


This is a common starting trouble faced by many individuals. So, I would like to share some tips which will help you write.


Switch off the WiFi. No messages or videos in between the typing. Even if you get stuck with bland vocabulary or shaky sentence structure, just type away whatever you can and later better your work.


No coffee or snacks during your writing time. A simple cup of tea and a biscuit can act as a major distraction for some. Sometimes the tea just doesn't seem sweet enough; sometimes it’s not hot enough, the biscuits may make your hands sticky. So no to any eatables during your typing time.


No going back to reading what you have typed. Many a times, your own typing discourages you from writing further. Only after you have drained your mind of all that you want to write, should you go to recheck your work. Be the writer, and then become the editor. But don't multitask.


Always choose a place away from people you know. It doesn't necessarily have to be a quiet place because sometimes it’s hard to ­find such spots, but you can defi­nitely ­find a spot where no one knows you and you do not know anyone. It will help you stay focused and will bring the small talk and the unnecessary conversations to a complete zero.


Try not to correct the spelling or typing mistakes in the middle of your writing. Proof reading can be done later.


Avoid phone calls that can be avoided.


Now that the little rules are set, let me share some bigger rules, rules that will test your tenacity.


• Make sure you write anything in between 300-500 words in a day.


• Write on any topic. It could vary from food to fashion. Skills to strategies. It could be about your work or the world. You shouldn't limit your writing practise to the area of your interest or your work.


• Write in any language. Don’t think English is the only medium you need to write in. Writing is more important than the language.


• Increase your circle of writer friends. Find out their struggles and their successes.


• Make friends with people who are motivated and disciplined.


• Make a writing buddy. You can co-author something with your friend. This usually is a good start.


• Also ­find a good and honest reviewer for your work. Pieces that you might feel are superb might be rubbish for the reader. And what you feel is a pathetic piece of work might be of interest to people. So fi­nding an honest and knowledgeable reviewer is very important.


• Read other people's work - work similar to yours. When experts suggest that one should read every day in order to write, many fail to understand what to read. In this confusion people choose books that are too mature for them. They pick the best selling author’s book and try to take writing tips from that level. Just like your writing, try to keep your reading choice also simple and varied.


• Write without drawing a very rigid boundary around your writing. Allow your writing to take any direction it wants to on that particular day.


• Write for yourself. Do not keep publishing it as your goal. The idea of publishing or printing it will inhibit your writing. Let the writing ‑ow without expectations. With this much of clarity and rules in place, looks like you are ready to start.


This article originally appeared in the TeacherTribe Magazine December 2020 edition.