By in Writing

Just Write Anything - Writing Up a Mess - 6

How do you become a Writer?

One writer, when asked, "how do you become a writer?" said, "Apply rear end to seat and write. Stay there until you have written to your target."

I don't know what to write

More advice says that if you don't know what to write, just write!

Write, "I don't know what to write", over and over until it becomes something you do want to write. This does work. Peter Elbow, who wrote a VERY useful and interesting book, "Writing With Power" has suggested using "Freewriting" as a means of overcoming writer's block and suggests using freewriting two or three times a week, just sitting and writing for ten, fifteen or twenty minutes at a time. Peter Elbow helps people improve their creative writing techniques. If you find yourself losing your way on writing fiction, try reading his book.

Persona Paper

I have actually used PP in this way. Although I have a number of Hubs on HubPages, (and previously on Squidoo) I have not felt motivated to write any more for quite a while. Probably because I am supposed to be writing a (long) dissertation. I wasn't even writing up my dissertation but then PP came along, with its 500 character minimum limit and no need for lots of fancy photographs and links to various Amazon products, etc. 500 characters? Nothing! I knew I could dash that off, no problem. But what about? Funnily enough, just sitting down and writing found the theme or headline or objective for me. And once I started writing on here, the dissertation also seemed to flow.


Currently I am up to 4000 words on Chapter 5 and Chapter 4 probably contains about 30,000 words, I may have to trim it a little! With all the chapters so far written, I am probably close to my maximum of 80,000 words already, so it will definitely need to be cut down, but hey, that's what the editing phase is for!


If you need to write a term paper, the best book I have read on doing this (and it uses freewriting techniques) is Steven Posusta's "Don't Panic: The Procrastinator's Guide to Writing an Effective Term Paper". You can download it onto a Kindle, or similar (or buy the book). It only takes 2 hours to read and is really interesting and useful. It helps you write term papers and articles. You could even use it to write an article on here! The book shows you how to develop your thesis (the central question for your paper) and how to then write about that.

Julia Cameron

Julia Cameron, in her book "The Artist's Way" also promotes freewriting, except she calls it journalling. She suggests sitting down each day, first thing and writing 3 or 4 A4 sheets of paper with whatever comes out of your head.

Burn it!

Both Elbow and Cameron suggest getting rid of your freewriting / journalling, once done. Their freewriting seems to be a way of unlocking any toxic blocks to free you to write the "real" stuff. Don't burn what you write for Posusta, though, that's your term paper that you need to submit tomorrow!

Where's the Mess?

Anyone who has been following this series over the (long) time since the start will be wondering where the mess is that we are going to bring together. It will appear in the last and final article of this series - number 7 and will include the use of a concept map. Watch this space!

Previous Articles

Tip 1 was to keep a notebook, Tip 2 was to keep a journal, which was also covered from a different angle in this article, Tip 3 was to build a framework or outline, Tip 4 was to draw it out, use a mindmap, Tip 5 was to just get it down.

Image Credit » by jarmoluk

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MelissaE wrote on March 30, 2015, 7:13 PM

Excellent article and tips. I have The Artist's Way; I just haven't read all of it, yet.

msiduri wrote on March 30, 2015, 8:08 PM

Sounds complicated. I set myself a schedule and mostly keep to it.

AliCanary wrote on March 30, 2015, 8:16 PM

I was the absolute queen of the last-minute term paper in college. I'm so glad to hear that your dissertation is well under way, and, once again, thanks for another great installment in the Writing Up a Mess series!

MegL wrote on March 31, 2015, 3:22 AM

I have read the Artist's Way and even belonged to a group that followed the exercises for a while a VERY long time ago but although I had her second book (Vein of Gold), I never even started it, which was unusual for me because if there was anything lying around, I read it, including cereal packets and sauce bottles!

Last Edited: March 31, 2015, 4:02 PM

crowntower wrote on March 31, 2015, 3:39 PM

This is the first time I have heard their names and their books, and I think if you suggested it because it is cool and we will learn from it, I think it is a must buy and must read books. For me, if you are having a writers block, just take a deep breath and watch something, or listen to music or anything that can motivate you to write will also a great way to combat blockage. God bless.

inertia4 wrote on March 31, 2015, 7:06 PM

MegL I get stuck sometimes. Well lots lately. But I do have other things on my mind than writing. So I do let it go. I haven't read any books on writing but I know I should. I did just finish a short story I had in my head. I think it came out okay. But have not yet decided what site to post it on. I will write more, I always do. I also am starting to write more in my own personal journal I am keeping. That is a help also.

BarbRad wrote on March 31, 2015, 8:20 PM

You forgot "Put the chocolate down and apply both hands to keyboard." I really need to do that now. Seriously, these are good tips. But I wouldn't delete my journals unless it was to protect the innocent -- or myself.

bestwriter wrote on April 1, 2015, 8:14 PM

Strange that I missed all your previous posts on the subject. What I would say is once writing becomes an addiction thoughts simply flow. Atleast that is what is happening to me. emoticon :smile:

MegL wrote on April 2, 2015, 2:40 PM

BarbRad , There are really two kinds of journals, when you look at what writers are saying. One is what I call my Research Journal, that I keep for my studies at present and that I have kept in the past to remind me of good quotes from books I enjoyed. In there, I put all sorts of things that could be useful to my studies (or my writing). The other kind of journal is rather like a wise and sympathetic friend who does not tell tales. That journal is the one that Julia Cameron in "The Artist's Way" is referring to. It is a means or place for venting about your anger, disappointment, weariness, spitefulness, laziness, etc. All the stuff you might want to pour into the ear of a wise counsellor (or offer up in prayer). The reason behind this type of journal is that it breaks the log jam in the emotions and once that log jam is flowing freely, all the OTHER stuff you want to write about is released too. Because THIS journal is a private place for venting and contains information or emotional outpourings that you might not want ANYONE else to see, some people recommend you shred or burn these journals and don't look back at them. They are supposed to be a means of freeing you from whatever has held you back and if you look at them again, it rekindles those negative emotions that you don't need.

trufflehunter wrote on April 3, 2015, 3:58 PM

THe applying butt to chair part is so true. It takes discipline to sit there for a purpose, especially if we do it at the same time same place everyday.

allen0187 wrote on April 3, 2015, 11:28 PM

I do a lot of freewriting but, I'm not so sure if this only applies to me, I have never ever used any of those that I've written 'freewritng'- stuff here in Persona Paper. It just doesn't feel right.

Overall, great post and very useful tips. i'm goign to check on those authors and books that you suggested MegL .

BarbRad wrote on April 5, 2015, 2:46 AM

I get it. I guess I don't have too many of those kinds of thoughts anymore, and when I do, I pray about them instead of writing them out. At the rate my memory is going, I won't remember them myself a week later.

scheng1 wrote on April 5, 2015, 3:11 AM

The best way to get writing ideas is to think about something to complain about. The words will rush out in haste.

MegL wrote on April 5, 2015, 4:21 AM

LOL. We always have plenty to say when we are complaining about something that affects us!

xstitcher wrote on April 10, 2015, 2:54 PM

I am farmiliar with Free Writing. :) I haven't done that in a while. I should have thought of that. ;)