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Another blogger recently wrote about the joys and frustrations associated with a collaborative writing project. With regard to the development of a fictional character when several writers have input into his/her future direction, he said:

We each cannot say with certainty what will happen next, only that we will have to accept it, process it, and make use of it.

I’ve been thinking about that sentence since I read it early yesterday morning.

It seems to me that blogger succinctly summed up the experience of writing, no matter what the genre, when we authentically tap into our creative energy source.

When we sit down to write, if we are able to let go of our fears, inhibitions, perfectionism, and self-doubt, it is impossible to predict what will happen next, no matter what type of written product we are working on. It is when I am able to get into my “zone” — a place of pure, uninterrupted focus upon the words and their meaning — that I do my best work. Those times are few and far beyond, unfortunately, because of the everyday demands upon my time and attention. But they are completely pleasurable and satisfying times, and I can look at certain pieces i have written when I was able to achieve that level of intense concentration and say, almost invariably, that the end product differs from what I thought I was going to write when I began. There is value in surrendering and letting the words lead you.

Chalk it up to the old cliche: We do our best work when we get out of our own way. The principle applies to any endeavor, of course, and is not limited to writing. But it is particularly applicable to writers.

And if we are able to overcome our anxiety and silence our highly critical internal editor, we might be able to delve into a new genre or explore new aspects of a genre with which we are familiar.

This week, try to carve out a bit of time and a comfortable place to write. Turn off the telephone, Blackberry, television, iPod, washer, dryer, vacuum cleaner, and anything else that threatens to interrupt your concentration, even if only for a little while. See if you can get into that “zone” of pure, focused energy — again, even if only for a little while — and just write. Send your internal editor on a coffee break, remind yourself that nobody but you need ever read what you write, and don’t stop to correct what you write. Just let the words flow. See what happens when you dive into your writing.

If you really want to push beyond your self-imposed limits, try a different type of writing. For instance, if you’ve never written poetry, challenge yourself to give it a whirl. Remember that no one else is going to read your draft and you might be shocked, but happily surprised by the words that flow out of you when you simply let go and dive, wholly unencumbered, into the process of writing.

Remember that, as that blogger stated, you only have to accept the inherent value of the result; process, but not criticize the resultant content; and then make use of it. Perhaps you will want to continue editing and eventually publish the product of this exercise. Or perhaps you can incorporate portions of what you write into other pieces that you are working on. At a minimum, if you are in a rut, feeling as though your creativity is stifled, I think you will find that this deliberate effort to break out of your routine will invigorate you and, as he put it, “shake you out of complacency.”

Leave a comment, letting me know what projects you are working on and how they are progressing.


  1. Nice post….

    I have been trying to sink into this zone lately… I have been writing some rough screenplays and it’s hard for me to sink into the zone like I used to. I’m just starting out, but it is truly an art to be able to saturate yourself into your writings…

  2. Very inspirational post. Its great if you have found the perfect moment that you are living in, but for many the true purpose of life is the struggle for that perfection, taking challenges. It is what makes life interesting and enjoyable.

  3. Anonymous

    Colaborative writing must be a great way to avoid writer’s block… if you can’t figure out what comes next, somebody else probably will.

  4. Wow — what a strong sentence! It really got me thinking.

  5. “I can look at certain pieces i have written when I was able to achieve that level of intense concentration and say, almost invariably, that the end product differs from what I thought I was going to write when I began.”
    …………… you are absolutely right.It always happens to me. When ever i write with my whole mind and heart at one place, the output turns out to be different.Its great but now what i have expected.Now, i can write an article about anything without deviating just by thinking about it (i mean without total concentration). One point i would like to mention , if you write in such a way you will surely miss some important and creative ideas which sometimes flickers and goes.

    Nice article. 🙂

  6. i tried a different type of writing in that I limited myself once on purpose to 100 words or less – a “complete” post. i do write poetry, but haven’t in a while, but have thought about making something i wrote a blog post. writing with someone though is a great idea, i know some novels that are written that way, like by judith michael – husband and wife team. pretty cool. thanks for the thoughts.

    Naturals last blog post..Paper or Plastic?

  7. I find (I write music, but there are parallels I think) that the “zone” finds me rather than vice versa.i subscribe to the idea that in creative endeavour we are pretty much like radio receivers. the problem becomes, then, not so much cutting out extraneous life static before the “zone” can be arrived at, but more recognising when a “signal” is “incoming” and be able to manage the static at the same time.

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