So there I was.
Feeling guilty that I’ve spent more time blogging about my story-writing goals than actually pursuing them. When I decide I’m going to sit down and write. I mean really, really write. Because it’s been forever, and that means I have a lot to catch up on. So I should write about 10 thousand words today to make up for it, right?
You laugh, but this is really how my brain works.
Of course, that just cranks up the panic. Because everything is riding on this, right? I mean, I said I’m a writer. I claimed the title. I launched an entire website around writing. I blog about writing. I read about writing. I dream up little scene snippets for my story. And jot down plans. And add to my outline.
And then I don’t write. Because scary. And skills.
So I lay down in bed. Because naps are better than panic attacks. But what’s better than naps? Scrolling through Pinterest and then napping!
That’s when I come across this crazy helpful writing tip snippet pinned to The Writer’s Sandbox. (Bear with me. This is important.) It was such a small insight. At first I didn’t take it seriously. Too easy. Just one tip among a thousand writing tips.
But, somehow, it got me writing.
Little did I know, I was onto something that would help me write every day for the rest of the week. While actually enjoying it.
The Anxiety-Busting Writing Combo: Write While Lying Down + Write Only 50 Words
Maybe it sounded like artsy-fartsy nonsense to you. It did to me. And when I didn’t think it was hooey, I thought it impractical. Because no way I don’t fall asleep if I lay down to write. You know? And how could I possibly write fast enough to keep up with the story while two-finger typing? And how could I hold my arms up that long without getting tired?
I thought of a million reasons why it couldn’t work. So I never tried it. Not on purpose.
Instead, fate took my resistant hand, forced me into bed, and said “There dummy. Get writing.”
I should have tried it sooner. Because, come one, where do my best ideas happen? Yep, in the shower. But after that, it’s definitely while lying in bed.
And all those problems I was worried about? Well, they totally happened. But the cool thing is, they ended up working in my favor.
You can find out more about those hiccups in the next installment of this mini-series, 5 Challenges of The One-Two Punch Writing Approach (And How To Overcome Them).
But first, why this method works in the first place.
Why It Works: The Psychology Behind This Two-Pronged Approach To Writing
Writers block is about fear. When it’s time to write, the record plays familiar fears on familiar ruts.
Will I measure up? Will my story be as good on the page as it is in my head? What if I’m disappointed? What if people think my story’s dumb? What if they think I’m dumb?
So this approach, lie down + write 50 words, reduces the pressure we put on ourselves and our stories to be epic. Here’s how.
#1 Sends Your Body The Signal To Relax
The reclining position tells your body that it’s time to relax. And that relaxed state is ideal for writing. Have you ever wondered why you think of your best ideas just before you fall asleep? That’s when we’re most free of expectations. Our minds are free to roam and come up with ideas.
We’re not sitting at a desk doing work. We’re just being.
#2 Eases You Through The Hardest Part
The write-50-words goal gets you focused while supporting relaxation. It’s this low-pressure approach that got me through the hardest part of writing: getting started. Once I was through the barrier, it was easy to keep going. And that was just a bonus.
#3 Keeps Your Focus On Accomplishable Mini-Goals
The other thing that helped?
You can’t tell your entire story in 50 words (unless we’re talking about flash fiction). So I thought more about each sentence. Because I had no choice but to focus in on one moment at a time. A hat brim buffeting on the breeze. Foam spilling over a beer glass. Wet fingertips fogging a polished bar.
50 words left no space to get lost in big concepts. It was about moving my story forward one sentence at a time.
#4 Slows The Process And Gives You Time To Think
Lying down helped focus my mind too. I composed my next sentence carefully each time I had to rest my arm. I couldn’t rush through a mad-dash of panic-stricken sentences on my way toward a finish line that felt too far away.
Instead, I had to enunciate each syllable for the talk-to-text software to understand.
It forced me to slow down. To consider where I was going. And the goal was small enough that I had plenty of time to do it right along the way.
You’ve Got The Key To Busting Your Writing Angst. So What Now?
Lie down in your cozy bed, and write 50 words. You can do it.
Because this is the moment you’ve been waiting for, writer. And you’re exactly where you need to be. Go.
Then read part two of this series: 5 Challenges of The One-Two Punch Writing Approach (And How To Overcome Them)