Jun 7, 2010

Writing With The Door Cloosed.

Stephan King, in his amazing book “On Writing” said that we must write first with the door closed before writing with the door open.

As a writer battling with Dyslexia, I would like to elaborate on that a little more.

For now, I will focus on writing with the door closed and cover writing with the door open in the next post.

What the great King of writing is referring to keeping ones writing clear from the opinion of others when it is not developed enough for even your closest friends to cast an eye upon. Unless you are a very-polished writer - the first drafts are usually little more than a creative scribble of the story outline. Remember - the first drafts are just the seeds of what will eventually be a great novel.

It would be ludicrous to take a friend out into the garden and say, “look at the fantastic seed I’ve sown that will be a magnificent oak tree in a few years,” and yet, without realizing it, that’s exactly what we do with our book if we produce it for the opinions of others during early drafts.

The first draft is for creativity and creativity only. And the first draft is definitely NOT the place for the intellectual left side of the brain to throw in it’s sixpence worth.

This is where I ran into trouble. I allowed the intellectual left side of the brain to edit every word the creative side was trying to relay, as I was writing it. I combed over every line, every paragraph, constantly looking for mistakes. I now realized I did this because of my neurosis over being dyslexic.

Can you imagine the dilemma – the conversation – the craziness of it as right brain and left-brain both tried simultaneously to control of the work at hand?

I was paralyzing my creative flow by being obsessed that there would be mistakes that I would not spot.

This led me to realize that it’s not just other people we need to keep the door shut on while working our first drafts – it’s also our critical mind we needs to be shut out.

How can do we do this?

I now have the following little statement carved on timber and placed where I can see it at all times.

“First Draft: Don’t get it right - Get it written!”

This helps me focus on allowing the creative energy flow and leave the critical intellectual side of the brain until the editing drafts, which is where it belongs.

With a smile
Ita x


  1. Totally agree. I always try and write first drafts before I start editing or think about the piece as a whole. If I did that I would never finish it and therefore have nothing to show for all my internal arguments. It's much better to allow creativity and editing to take turns.

  2. Thanks for comment Bethany - Alas I was so hung up on dyslexia that it took me a long time to learn that one! It's all a learning curve.
    With a smile