In many ways, this is a follow up on my last post about editing prematurely.
I am writing this on a windows notepad… Why? Because it’s fast, easy, simple, and above all: it doesn’t allow any type of formatting. You see, that’s a big problem for me… I format, rather than write. When I hit a road block I start playing around with font, type-size, spelling, and other formatting tools… almost without even thinking about it.
My brain stops trying to come up with more content, and shifts to making what I’ve already written look good. That’s fine and dandy of course, as long as it’s done in the proper order. As I touched on in my last post: Plain and simple, editing should not be done before the content is out of your head. While I explained WHAT I do in my last post, now here are a few ways I try to avoid, or at least counteract this troublesome habit.
YOU CAN’T EDIT WHAT YOU CAN’T SEE:
I’ve used this tactic several times with a varying degree of success. It’s fairly easy to do too. Shrink down your word-processor’s window to a narrow line so that you can see what you are currently writing, but nothing else. This tactic eliminates the ability to glance back at the last paragraph you just wrote and edit in your head. Of course it is possible to still scroll back up, but a fair amount of self-control should eliminate that pitfall… if not, then incapacitate your mouse by duck-taping it to the desk… if that doesn’t work, then a more aggressive approach might be necessary—say an AR-15.
KILL THE SPELL-CHECKER
I live in a fairly hectic household. I’m the second oldest of 6 siblings ranging in age from 24 to 7. Simply put, our house is wild and loud and always crazy. The funny thing though is that that craziness isn’t a distraction for me. (Probably because I have contributed to it for so many years that I’m used to it.) What IS a distraction for me is what’s on my screen.
It’s called Spell-checker.
I HATE those little red lines saying you spelled something wrong, and those little green lines saying that your grammar is wrong. I see those stupid little notations and immediately I HAVE to make them go away… regardless of whether I am mid-thought, mid-sentence or ANYTHING.
Luckily Spell-checker can be killed/turned off. If you have the same problem that I do, I highly recommend that you take this measure. You can access it by going
FILE > OPTIONS > PROOFING > DESELECTING “CHECK SPELLING AS YOU TYPE” & “CHECK GRAMMAR AS YOU TYPE”
Once you have finished whatever it is you were writing, you can turn Spell-check back on the same way.
CLOSE THE BROWSER:
I try (big emphasis intended) not to do anything else when I write.
No music, No Facebook, No twitter, No WordPress.
I’ve found all too often that when I hit a roadblock, I fallback to one of these sites almost without realizing that I’m doing it. And then I spend hours on them and don’t get any writing done. For some people, this isn’t even a problem. For myself however, I have a short attention span and this is a major distraction. The best advice that I have, and have come across elsewhere on the web is simply this: DON’T EVEN GIVE YOURSELF THE CHANCE. If you are planning to sit down and WRITE, then close EVERYTHING else and focus.
And last but not least:
DON’T GIVE UP, EVER:
It can seem very daunting at times to never get anything longer than a short story done because you face obstacles such as these bad habits. You might even label such a task as “impossible.” I am speaking from example here, when I say that it is essential to NEVER give up.
Personally, I try never to use the word “Impossible” to label a task. To do so is to already have surrendered without as much as a fight. Instead I like the word “difficult” or “challenging”, for a difficult task—though it might take much pain, labor, sweat and toil—can be overcome.
An impossible one cannot.
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
– Apostle Paul (Philippians 4:13 ESV)
I will end by saying that the greatest asset in overcoming habits that aren’t healthy, be it in any part of our lives, is the wisdom from the Bible, and the grace and love of Jesus Christ.
“Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.”
– King David (Psalms 55:22 NKJV)