We’ve all been there. You’re starting a new endeavor and suddenly you need a title. Maybe it’s a new username for your Youtube channel, an updated email address, a clever gamertag, the name of your next videogame character, or in this case, a blog title. And suddenly you stop dead. You can’t go on any further until you come up with that title. All you want to do is upload videos, send an email, compete online, or just start blogging. But no. That username is already in use. Title can only contain lowercase letters. You must add at least one symbol, number, and capital letter. Please try again. And again. And then maybe one more time too.
That’s what happened when I started this blog. I either typed a title that was already in use, couldn’t find the right words, or just plain wouldn’t commit to anything. I felt like I was spending more time holding down the backspace key than actually moving forward and being productive with what I came to do: create a blog. I could have let that deter me, but instead I found my title.
The backspace key is your friend. Not just because it allows you to back up and correct your typos or change the delivery of a sentence, but because it unlocks new possibilities. Sometimes it’s easy to fall in a rut with your writing and you back away from change. Maybe you hit the wall creatively and can’t figure out how to move forward. Maybe you’re too proud; you feel accomplished that you wrote anything and letting go of it or admitting it isn’t your best is harder than coming up with a new angle. I’m guilty of all of these. They’re easy to fall into. But nothing you write has to be permanent. You don’t have to just settle, be stuck, or feel afraid to delete what you wrote. Sometimes deleting is the answer.
That’s what I meant when I named this blog. Backspace Blog: When Being Uncommitted Saves Lives (Fictional Ones at Least). I ran into the most headaches with my first novel. I was still figuring out my process and trying to find my way. I was afraid to delete anything. My mentality was I wrote this so therefore it must stay. No. Just no. That is not how you write successfully. You have to be able to step back, look at what you wrote down, and chop it to pieces. You have to know when something isn’t working, when something needs to be tweaked, when you’re just saying way too much. You gotta be able to press that backspace button.
I was stuck for long periods of time on that book. I wanted to give up a lot because I just couldn’t make it work. But it’s because I was holding on too hard. I needed to let go. When that happened, everything clicked.
Deleting your work isn’t a failure. It isn’t giving up. It’s recognizing that you can do better. It’s realizing your writing can take another direction. Maybe that character isn’t supposed to go down the path you have them on. Maybe that scene of dialogue just isn’t conveying the right thing or seems out of place. Maybe you’re trying too hard to make a character feel or act a certain way and they’re trying to tell you they disagree. Part of writing is weighing all your options. Just because you wrote a scene one way doesn’t mean it’s the only way or even the right way for your novel. It’s okay to be uncommitted to what you wrote. It’s okay to be unsure. That means you recognize when something isn’t working or know that you could push harder and write something better. Writing is trial and error sometimes. It sucks to write a whole storyline and then realize 100 pages later you made a mistake and a different path would work better. But that’s learning. That’s creating.
So be uncommitted. Write as many possibilities as it takes until you find the one that works. It could save your characters, your plot, and your whole project. Don’t give up or be afraid to rewrite. That’s what the backspace button is there for. It can make all that mess of words you’ve been staring at for hours just disappear. A blank screen can be more motivating than scrupulously keeping track of your word count. Who cares about word count if the words aren’t working right? A blank screen is endless possibility. The backspace key is your eraser. Use it.
Have you experienced any of these circumstances? Has there ever been a time when you were afraid to let go of something you wrote? How did you fix the issue?