Why Your Failing Eyesight Is Good For Your Writing

My eyesight is not what it used to be. I blame almost fifteen years of editing and supporting writers.

But in some ways, I think my failing eyesight is good for my writing. Pigeons fly blind. When they fly forward, they are not at all looking in the same direction they're moving. Instead, they watch the passing scenery, like a passenger in a car. 

Years ago, while doing NaNoWriMo, I started the practice of writing first drafts—when I was using a computer and not pen-and-paper—to set the screen view at 50% or less. I did it for an entire month and still practice the technique frequently when I want to write with abandon. Only now, I just have to take off my reading glasses.

I think of it as flying blind, and it's a great technique for first-draft writing. The idea first came to me in conversation with the my friend and colleague Ken Stram, founder and owner of 2Bridge Communications and a masterful writer. Honing his own writing skills, Ken confessed to me that he had resorted to taping a piece of paper over his laptop screen to keep himself from reading back and self-editing while he journaled or drafted new work.

And why do I want to read back anyway? To rest? Then I should walk away. Editing is not resting. To remember where I left off? I don't lose track if I don't stop writing in the first place. To make sure it's good? To admire? To criticize? I should not be doing any of these things while I’m first-draft writing. I should only be writing.

Because like a pigeon in flight, it's really okay, that I'm not looking at what I'm doing. In fact, like a pigeon, I may gather more interesting, imaginative, and scenic information by looking elsewhere while I fly—er, write.

Try it. Writers love self-criticism and analysis so much that most of us have to literally blind ourselves to keep from reading back. I always have more typos than usual, of course, but I can fix those later. The point is, I can just write without reading back, without judging, without editing, without even putting on reading glasses. I can keep moving forward even if I’m flying blind. In fact, I can move forward because I am flying blind.


I'm a writer and teacher, dedicated to arousing writers and easing the messy, juicy, sexy process of creativity. For more great writing tips, follow me on Facebook or Twitter. Yearning to jump into the writer’s life yourself? My free ebook, Arouse Your Writer Self, will get you going. Want more? Private sessions with me are more affordable than you think, and the first one’s free.


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Sunday, 19 August 2018

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