Today I have a neat tip from Paula Kay McLaughlin who blogs at Write Now. Give her a visit. Among other great posts on writing, Paula features a querying writer and their project each Tuesday for her Writer Spotlight series.
I stumbled upon a useful writing tool around midnight several months back. I was totally exhausted, but all these thoughts and visions swirled in my head that weren’t formed yet. If I waited, if I went to bed and tried to find them again in the morning, they would be as gone as my younger size-four figure. So I let my eye lids close and kept my fingers tapping.
At first it was strange not to see the letters appear on the screen in front of me, to trust that I was hitting the correct keys. When I summoned the strength to lift my lids and peek I figured I’d find: amdla knfsl;d khr aweyra;k. But there were readable, full sentences there so I closed my eyes again.
What I discovered was by turning off one sense others became more acute. Duh, right? We all know this. Ray Charles is a heck of a musician and some may argue much of it has to do with the fact he can’t see.
But back to writing, this is what closing my eyes and writing did for me and what it might do for you too:
- It stopped me from hitting backspace or delete, from re-working that previous sentence, from finding the just-right-word that may end up getting deleted anyway, from rereading that earlier line, that earlier chapter . . . Instead it pushed me forward, which, if you’re like me, forward in a first draft is a good thing, yes? Second and third drafts are where that other stuff comes in. In short, it freed that part of my mind, my thinking, so I could stop obsessing over the stuff that didn’t matter—yet.
- Writing with my eyes closed allowed me to see, hear, and feel what my characters were seeing, hearing, and feeling (emotionally) with more clarity.
So there it is, for what it’s worth. A stumbled upon technique for writing certain scenes, for first drafts, and for when you’re really, really tired and another cup of coffee will not help. Wear ear-plugs too, what the heck, why not? And if you’re sitting at your favorite coffee shop—go on, close your eyes. Sure other patrons will look at you strange—but it’s not like you’ll see them, right?
- When inside my head I could better look around the room, the woods, the world my character was in and notice even more of the details.
*Warning: This technique is not recommended while sitting on the stern of a boat in stormy weather, while in the wilderness with chocolate (or honey) in your snack bag, or while your kids are downstairs—alone—preparing a Mother’s or Father’s Day breakfast that may involve sharp objects, bickering, matches or hot surfaces.