How Thinking Less Can Improve Your Writing


When you plan your writing, you try to fit it into a mold. You search for the right words instead of letting the right words find you. You try to tame it. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a post or a novel that you’re writing. You may see it through to the end, and it may even be good, but will it sound your depths? Will it go beyond the cliches that your mind has picked up from other writers? Beyond all those literary devices that make it read like a story everyone has read before?

When words do not come easily, when you struggle to write, it’s not writer’s block. And it’s not a question of you not being a good writer, either. It’s just that you’re thinking too hard. You may do this subconsciously, by trying to align your writing to your vision. Let go of what you think is good writing. Give yourself the gift of writing anything, anything at all.

Something will begin to happen then. Your writing will pick up speed. It will flow. You won’t write what you thought you wanted to write, nor what you thought you had to write. You will just write. And you will enjoy it. Creative writings flows when it comes from a place deeper than the conscious mind, when it’s instinctive and intuitive.

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
― Ernest Hemingway

We writers are poor judges of our writing. It’s up to readers to decide whether what we write is any good. The most that we can do is apply to our pages the filter of our taste. We shouldn’t show them everything that we write. Only what we feel is ours the most.

That’s not to say that outlining a big work or breaking it down into ideas doesn’t have its advantages. If that’s what you feel like doing, it would be a pity not to do it. But as soon as the outline is done, don’t imprison yourself in it. Allow yourself to forget it.

“A word after a word after a word is power.”
― Margaret Atwood

Good writing needs space to happen. Deadlines won’t hurt it. Nor will form. But taking preconceived notions to the page will. All you need to create that space is to stop thinking and just write. Whether your writing sells or not doesn’t matter if you enjoy writing it. But most of the time, if you enjoy it, other people will enjoy it, too.

Do you agree? Or do you always plan your writing, all the time?


13 thoughts on “How Thinking Less Can Improve Your Writing

  1. Whilst reading a piece of literature, I often wonder about how much the wordsmith might have planned before penning the masterpiece.
    For me, to plan before writing is like taming a bird whose wings are to sore the boundless hemispheres.

  2. This is brilliant as in each of us is something unique. Hence even one excellent writer differs so much from the next.

  3. I write my best stuff when I’m enjoying writing the most… which usually happens when I just let the words flow right out of my brain onto the screen. Or “bleed” as Hemingway would have put it. I rarely plan anything, because if I do it comes out sterile and bland and stiff.

  4. I have to agree. The process of writing is something you can’t force or make. If it doesn’t go naturally, it usually means that you are doing something wrong.
    I have problem with not planning anything I want to write. It’s not that good for academic research or any other types of works demanding some coherent flow of thoughts. But when it comes to creative writing, it boils down to something incredible and usually way more interesting than I intentionally planned.

  5. I so agree with this. When it comes to fiction writing, I follow an adapted version of Natalie Goldberg’s suggestion from her book ‘Writing Down the Bones’. I write down the time, and then write without pausing for ten minutes. I usually end up writing for much longer, but on some days ten minutes is better than nothing. For years, I thought too much and wrote very little. This method really works for me. For non-fiction, though, I find the process is a little more conscious.

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