I figured out a new way to write.

Congratulations, Earth! We can move on from here! I’ve found the secret to success!

Okay, fine, let’s unpack that a bit.

This blog is not to serve as some revolutionary piece of writerly inspiration. Far from it. Others have most likely said what I’ve said in better ways. All I’m trying to do is get across what I, one person, have learned. Hopefully fellow amateur authors doing their best to live up to their idols and write the stories they want will find something useful here. That’s always the hope.

Yesterday I finally sat down with my manuscript. After being afraid of it for a hot minute I decided to buck up, hold back tears, drink a gallon of coffee, and finally write.

And…it wasn’t bad?

I mean, I didn’t hate it all. There were good bits, sure, alongside the bad bits, and there were bits I saw what I was trying to do that I knew I could fix in the 2nd draft.

But to start off a writing binge I wanted to try something different:

No music.

Slower typing pace.

This might seem obvious, but it fell into one of my creative blind spots. When I was teaching I had colleagues and master teachers observe and critique my style. From there I could make improvements, adapt to a variety of students, and change lesson plans to fit my class’s learning style. I learned how to be a better teacher that way.

Sometimes when you’re working by yourself you fall into this black pit where you can’t reflect enough. You don’t consider what you’re doing and how it can negatively affect you.

I would spend, conservatively, 15 minutes every day trying to find the right music to write to. Music, specifically soundtracks, play a big part in my creative process. During long drives to students or in the gym I’ll let my mind wander with the sounds of Hans Zimmer and Yoko Shimomura in my head. Scenes are born from there.

But they don’t have to be birthed from there.

Yesterday I wrote in complete silence. No music. Just the fan overhead and the occasional sound of my cats eating from the other room.

And I loved it. It helped my mind focus, narrow in on the tough bits, and moved along my story lines without distraction. Wow! What an innovation! Sound can distract you!

*smacks self in face

The other thing I did to help was to slow down my typing. I used an online typing calculator to figure out how fast I normally type. After a few trials I figured my average, wild speed was about 75 WPM, with mistakes. After purposefully slowing down I clocked in, on average, about 50 WPM.

Feeling that speed out, that’s how fast I typed in my manuscript.

And that helped. It allowed me to think through sentences easier, more clearly. To hit the marks I wanted, to allow the dialogue to flow smoother, and sure, thoughts rushed to my head fast and furious, wanting to spill out, but I put a cork in them and held on to the thought in front of me.

And it helped.

It all helped.

Sometimes, the things you do that you think help you are actually what’s hindering you.

Reflect. Change. It’s okay.

Thanks for reading,

Follow me:

Twitter: @robacosta

Instagram: @robacosta

Contact: robertmichaelacosta@gmail.com