Does the perfectionist in your head fight your attempts to write without editing? Mine, too!

Rather than fighting her I outwit her. Wanna see how you can outwit yours as well?

Sweet.

When I attempt to pen early drafts without editing, my inner-perfectionist BEGS me to fix typos and rewrite clunky sentences. Every time!

Yet, as soon as I give into one fix, she gains control of the delete key. And I board a direct flight to You Will Not Pass Sentence Two Today!

Thankfully the Milton Bradly in my head developed Write In Takes or W.I.T.

How to play W.I.T.

This game was inspired by my days as a video editor. In that world, editors are often given multiple versions – known as takes – of the same scene, presentation or support footage. They compare them and choose the best one. With this game we can, too. Sound good?

Let’s go.

OBJECT:

  • Phase I: Churn out a draft filled with takes – no deleting, fixing or pausing for more than a nano-second.
  • Phase II: Let the perfectionist in your head play with the words and choose the best takes.

GAME PIECES: Your favorite writing app and a timer (optional)

SETUP:

  1. Commit to a word count or specific mini-project (a chapter, blog post, scene, song or strongly worded email to a frenemy – that kind of thing).
  2. Put a prize on the line that you only collect if you win, such as a Youtube, fun read or snack break.
  3. Grab your favorite block-ditching beverage and close the door to the outside world.

HOW TO PLAY PHASE I:

  1. (Optional) Set a timer to add a spicy ticking time flare.
  2. Write. Avoid the self-destruct button, also known as the delete key.
  3. Outwit your inner-perfectionist by typing OR followed by the alternative wording or fresh idea that pops in your head.
  4. If an idea tied to something you penned earlier pops in your head, wrap it in [square brackets], (parentheses) or ***asterisks*** – whatever works for you. Then add a hint that shows where you’ll place it later.
  5. Let the draft simmer or move on to Phase II.

Let’s look at two examples:

A. My first draft for the intro to this post unfolded like this:

What do you do when perfectionism messes with your writing session? OR when the perfectionist in your head shows up to your writing session?

B. During the first rewrite for the how-to-play instructions, I used step 4 like this:

Step 2: Write without using the delete key. [Open, OR does the perfectionist in your head fight your attempts to write without editing? Mine, too!] [Before gameplay steps —> inspiration = multiple takes in the video editing world.]

See how this works?

Winning Phase I

Awesome news! With this game, you’ll pen waaayy more words than usual. And you win phase I if you hit your target word count or mini-project milestone with minimal delete key action.

Not-so-awesome news! You get to wade through waaayy more words than usual during your first rewrite.

No worries.

You know that feeling you get when you clear the clutter from a closet? This is way better, because you won’t be left with the physical labor of putting back the non-clutter. Sweet!

Time to unleash the perfectionist in your head

I’ve had 1,200 word blog posts blow up to 3,200 words while playing W.I.T. And then chopped that in half during the first pass of phase two.

HOW TO PLAY PHASE II:

  1. (Optional) Set your timer to continue the spicy ticking time flare.
  2. Make a copy of your document, just in case.
  3. Set a target purge (Example: 3,200 words to 2,500).
  4. Use the search feature to find the [square bracket] or character you used to flag copy you’ll move.
  5. Move each text block to its new home.
  6. Search for OR. Then cut the words that don’t work or mix the takes together to make a fresh one that does.
  7. Done. Collect your prize.

By the way, version one of this post clocked in at 2,166 words. During the first round of Phase II cuts, the perfectionist in my head cleared 922 words in about 20 minutes. You’re skimming the final 1,052 word version.

Oh, and guess what? You can play this game with pen and paper, too. I use little doodles to flag text that will be moved when I take my draft into LibreOffice. As I type, I quickly choose which “OR” copy scores a spot in the doc.

On that note, let’s check out the…

GAME WINNING TIPS:

  • Practice patience. Play W.I.T. for 5-7 sessions before deciding to shelve it or not. New techniques often feel awkward at first. Remember learning to walk? I don’t but have seen many a tot wobble and fall several times before getting the hang of it. That said, trust your gut. This may not suit your style. I promise a way ditch perfectionism exists for you. Let’s find it.
  • Challenge your inner-perfectionist to make quick decisions during phase II and trust your instincts. Worried you’ll purge the better wording? That’s why you’ll save a copy of your first draft.
  • Let the words simmer between drafts. Phase II can taste so much better when you build downtime into your writing schedule.
  • Put a prize on the line. Yep, in an ideal world the satisfaction of playing the game will be enough. In the real world, life, our heads and distractions threaten to derail our sessions. Putting a simple prize on the line helps keep us on track.

Let’s sum up

Are you reading this on a smartphone? Take a screenshot of the following to use as a reference. Not sure how? Just Google: how to take a screenshot on [your device].

Writing In Takes or W.I.T. QuickStart:

  1. Commit to writing without editing.
  2. When a correction or revision pops in you head, jot down OR followed by the thought.
  3. If a correction or revision reveals itself while penning another section, wrap the thought and a location prompt in [square brackets], (parentheses), or ***asterisks*** – whatever works for you.
  4. Use your app’s search feature to find the special character and move copy its new home.
  5. Search for OR and clear the clutter.

Over to you

I double-dog dare you to adapt W.I.T. to suit your style and share your version in the comments section below. Your comment enters you in a drawing to win a complimentary coaching session.

Block-ditching Resources:

Up the ante with apps like Hanx Writer for iPhone or Write Or Die.

playbook with coaching and tracking for games like W.I.T.

Ditch The Block Monday jam sessions.

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