I thought that since I have no advice to give, no trenchant observations to make, I’d write about what I’m doing now and such. Maybe this will be of some interest you, maybe not. As with all things, your mileage may vary.
At the moment, I am at the climax portion of a short story that came to me literally out of nowhere, practically fully formed. It needed a few tweaks but the skeleton of the story, right down to the coccyx and itty-bitty carpals was right there, waiting to be assembled. Now of course you know that the skeleton of a story is very different from a living story. Things needed to be added. Flesh for the main characters for example. They started out as archetypes. One represented one thing, the other represented its antithesis. But then, over a couple of days, they came into their own and started doing things and reacting to things in a way that only they could. The world also needed to be tied together with the sturdy ligaments of cause and effect. Some things were out of order and I needed to figure out what in the hell they were doing, why they were there, and if I could either make them hold together or nix the thing altogether and replace it with something better fitting. After some world-building, I happened upon a mythology that to me feels elusive yet cohesive. It’s a world in which history is something to escape from and forget. Luckily it all seems to have come together. Actually, it would have come together sooner if I had either pushed it a little harder or had not stopped myself in the middle of some crucial scenes.
It might seem a little ridiculous to stop writing, put away the word processor, and go do something else in the middle of a great writing session but it works and I’ll tell you why. This, by the way, isn’t my own idea but something I’d read about somewhere, probably in a writer’s journal or something. Back on topic though. When everything is just coming up aces and you follow through, things can only go a certain way. You have a vision and damn it all that vision will live! Which is fine. But rarely if ever is the first iteration the final one. Writing is, like any creative endeavor, a recursive process. So, by stopping yourself in the middle of writing, you give yourself time to play with your ideas. You may come up with something you hadn’t thought of while in the throes of creative ecstasy. Or you may come to realize you were playing with a theme you hadn’t been aware of and you want to further develop it. Then there’s also the fact that by holding off, well, to be honest, it’s a bit like abstinence. You let the pressure build and build so that the next time you sit down and are ready to write, boy oh boy, the words are going to come bursting out of you. In this way, you don’t fatigue yourself and throw it all in at one sitting. You save up, think it through, then when there’s enough pressure, you let it spill out of you. It works for me well enough so hopefully it may prove useful for you as well.
Finally, I will add that I’m doing my best to cut out as much noise as I can from my life. I’ve already said how the unchecked influence of the internet can be a bullet to the heart of your creativity. So, taking my own advice, I began cutting back and cutting back. But it still wasn’t enough. I noticed that even if I hadn’t looked at a bunch of web pages that day, something was still off. Well, turns out that we are all very good at producing, packaging, and shipping up from our unconscious all kinds of distractions. The flagship product, not surprisingly, is self-doubt. It took a while but I’v managed to get that under control in a way I haven’t had in a long time. In fact, I think that perhaps this is a good place to end this and lead into next week’s post. So, my friends keep writing, try the start-stop method (I don’t know what it’s called exactly) of writing if you like and I’ll send word from my little corner of the world next week. As always, you’re invited to leave a comment and join be a part of this sharing of ideas.