What do you do when you can't write?


"The road to hell is paved with adverbs."Stephen King

Have you ever noticed how painful English is?

See what I did there?

I wrote one sentence and I've already violated a "rule" (or at least a VERY strictly observed guideline). Did you catch it?

Skilled writers don't typically end their sentences with verbs.  There are also guidelines around prepositions, but I don't seem to observe those either.  I wish I had memorized the preposition song when I was young, because the list is always a little vague to me. Often, I'm not even sure if I'm outside the guidelines.

Though sometimes I think a preposition is a good thing to end a sentence with.

Other times, I like being contrarian.

To make writing matters worse, I had an English professor who used to take points off whenever we needlessly used forms of "to be" in our writing.  As far as I could tell, he found EVERY form of "to be" needless.

I am still scarred.

So when I want to write, "I want to be a better writer," I can't simply write those seven words and let them stand.  That won't work because I see "to be" on the page and I think someone who is truly proficient in English will mentally mark me down.  So, I have to edit and rewrite the phrase as "I want to write better."

Actually, I re-read the sentence again and I decided who really needs to read about my writing dreams any way? (Or is it anyway? one word? I need to look it up.)


That's how my mind rolls (almost as random as this).

Then I notice I used the word "that."  Uh oh - more trouble.  I think it's Bob Goff writing in Love Does (perhaps quoting Don Miller?) who reminds writers that "that" is a four-letter word and should be used sparingly.

My mom, aka my editor, tells me "it" is a lazy way to start a sentence.

Suddenly, I'm self-conscious about every sentence I type.  Then I remember every fiction writer disqualifies "suddenly" as a poor technique to create tension.

Mistakes everywhere I turn. Great.  Just great.

Don't get me started on writing in the passive voice, remembering the difference between proceed/precede, or knowing if I spelled contrarian correctly.  As for punctuation, well, if I never master the semi-colon, there's always a place for ellipsis...

I would love to write more of a post for you today, but suddenly I have writer's block.