The Four Star Treatment
I am writing to beat a deadline. I know what I want do say, how the
paragraphs should flow, and then I hit a sentence where I canít grasp the
words. Detail eludes me. I say, ďRats.Ē (Yes, itís true I say ďratsĒ
out loud. When Iím in cube world with other writers they laugh at me. They
know what has just happened.)
Iíve tripped. A detail has halted my momentum and Iím headed
for a brain cramp.
Brain cramp is not like writers block. Writerís block means youíve gone
blank and canít move forward. Brain cramp means you know what you want to
say Ė you know what you want to say for the next two pages (!) - but one
word or detail has you sidelined and you canít move past it. You try to
think of a word or a way to say something and
your treasure trove of experience is bare.
You can spend precious minutes consulting a dictionary or thesaurus while
the rest of your good ideas drip out of your ears and scurry away.
Your momentum gets broken and frustration builds.
You can give yourself the four star treatment. Enter four asterisks
(****) in place of the words you canít think of right now and forge ahead
with your writing. Put the cramp Ė or potential cramp Ė out of your head and
just get on with the job.
Later when the ideas are all safely written down and momentum is spent,
you can go back and take the time to "fill in the blanks". The
pressure is off so there is less chance of a brain cramp. You've also
had a taste of completion which is always a good emotional frame of mind for
coming up with ideas.
If youíre on a computer you can search for the stars. If youíre using
pen/pencil and paper, make your stars big. Later on, go back and see where
they are and give each one a reference number. On a separate piece of paper
write what you meant to say next to the reference number. When youíre
typing, you can go to the reference numbers and type in what you want. Kind
of like shuffling the cards back into order.
I use the four star treatment a lot. Whenever I am unsure about spelling,
have questions or am unsure about where a subject is going, or whenever I
want to revisit an area of a book, the four star marker ensures that I donít
forget. I donít have to waste time. I donít have to worry.
Donít let details derail your work. Use this tool to free yourself and
write as your mind leads.
This article is the sole property
of the author. It is produced here with the author's permission. The unauthorized use or reprinting of an article is
illegal, and will be
prosecuted at the discretion of the