That is a good question to ponder when writing. It is also one I had never thought to ask until I spoke with Professor Lane Hudson, an instructor at the State University of West Georgia.
As writers of reviews, newspaper articles, short stories, or full-length novels—whatever the case may be—we all occasionally hit a snag in our writing. I fondly call it a mind freeze, but for others it is writer’s block. It really doesn’t matter what we call it as long as we find a solution to the problem.
As I searched for relief from my mind freeze, it was mind blowing (pardon the pun) to discover that the physical aspects of my sweet and devious little brain could actually be affecting my foray into the written word. Instructor Hudson was instrumental in showing me that there is hope for writers to overcome the age old problem of “What to Type.” Professor Hudson has a simple solution for a difficult problem when it comes to writer’s block. He says we should not hack to pieces our personal computers when the muse deserts us. Instead of turning into maniacal monsters who might stare at a blank screen for hours, we should turn off our monitors and create solely from the spirit, without looking at the screen. Sound like a fairy tale? It isn’t. This simple solution really works.
Professor Hudson explained that the left brain (the “logical” side of our brain) can hinder the creative right side of the brain. When we get a “mind freeze” it is the left brain trying to override the right brain. In other words, the left and right brain actually wage a war of thoughts.
When we are delving into plots, scenery and the emotions of our characters, we really only want to paint a picture with words, but occasionally we get to a place where words desert us, and we find ourselves staring at the monitor screen wondering what to type next. Staring, starting and staring…we all know the drill. We are desperately trying to come up with the inspiration that will send our fingers flying over the keyboard.
But the logical side of our brain tries to stamp out the creativity we are trying to produce. As we are staring at the computer monitor our left brain takes a peek at the screen and sees typographical errors, unfinished thoughts, and rough paragraph structure, and wants to correct these, whereas all the right side of our brain wants to do, is finish the creative work.
As simple as it sounds, the monitor blackout shuts down the logical side of our brain. It’s like closing our eyes to the errors, leaving us free to fantasize about the world we are attempting to create. We are then free to have our fingers fly across the keyboard without looking at the screen.
Lane Hudson further explains in his experience there are two more important reasons writers tend to continue to gaze upon a blank screen when writer’s block arises. One, a lot of writers wait for the complete story they want to write to be revealed in its entirety, including plots and characters before filling the paper with words. And second, we tend to wait for the right words before typing any at all. This is a mistake that feeds writer’s block. What would be the right words for me, might not be the right words for someone else.
Everyone writes differently and we should all strive to remember that one word can make a difference in reaching our readers. Professor Hudson encourages writers to “express and not to impress.” We need to write what we feel, saving editing for later. So strip off the covers on your keyboards, limber up your fingers, and get to creating.
Faith V. Smith is a multi-published author with TWRP and Siren Bookstrand.