How many times have you sat down to write and gotten instantly stuck? How many times have you been writing and hit a wall because you were nervous you weren’t taking the story in the right direction? How many times have you felt “blocked” “bogged down” or “frozen” during a writing session instead of free and flowing and moving ahead?
It’s not writer’s block.
The number one reason writers get stuck while writing is because they’re worried they’re writing the wrong thing. They’re worried about audience response, or the messiness of the draft, or the sound of their own writing voice.
But there is a way to break through.
The Write-Like-Hell Method
Take 20 minutes. Any 20 minutes during any part of your day. Use a timer. When the timer starts you Write Like Hell for 20 minutes. No stopping. No pauses to think of how you want to say the next thing or decide where the story needs to go. Just writing, full steam ahead, for the full 20 minutes.
Yes, your hand will probably cramp up. And yes, resistance will kick in and you will feel like you have to take a break to use the bathroom, get water, or get a new pencil. Ignore it. You can bear anything for 20 minutes.
And that’s why we’re only doing this for 20 minutes, because you’ll know that anything that shows up and tries to get you to stop writing is just an excuse.
Think of this exercise as a 20-minute sprint. It’s okay to get messy, sweaty, and out of breath. And if you hit a rough patch where you don’t know how to spell something, or you need to do more research, put it in brackets and come back to it later. Because during this 20-minute sprint you really don’t have time to go back and make sure your sentences are perfect. You only have time to move ahead.
I recommend using the Write Like Hell method for at least a month. After you finish each 20-minute writing session, put the pages you wrote away. That means in a closed drawer or a file that you don’t open on your desktop. You are not allowed to go back and obsessively reread these pages, picking at them and worrying over details.
The purpose of this exercise is forward movement, not circling back.
The benefit of the Write Like Hell method is that anyone can schedule 20 minutes for writing, even if they have an extremely busy life. You can set your alarm for 20 minutes earlier in the morning and do it then, or sit in your car for 20 minutes after you get off work and rip out a few pages. You don’t need big chunks of time and you don’t need to wait for everything else in your life to cooperate.
Schedule 20 minutes. Sit your butt down. Set the timer.
Write Like Hell!