Do or Do Not.

On Pre-Writing and Rewriting

with 2 comments

My boy Timmy B has come to one of those conclusions that a great many of us who’ve tried to write any fiction have come to at one time or another: eventually, you’ve got to stop all of the pre-writing, get past all of that “planning” you think you’re doing, quit futzing around and dive into the real writing.

I know what he’s talking about, of course; I’m a Four-Time Procastination Through Pre-Writing World Champion (I pulled a John Larroquette and took my name out of consideration after my fourth win back in ’96). I’ve got what feels like thousands of Microsoft Word documents and text documents and 3×5 note cards all with scribblings about my stories — and very, very little that’s actually part of the stories themselves. I know a whole bunch of reasons why that’s true, and I’m sure I’ve delineated them here before. I’m less interested right now in rehashing the why nots as much as I am in finding ways to break through them.

My latest experiment, which I haven’t really tried yet though I’m prepped for it, is a return to my roots: that’s right, I’m coming back home to pencil and paper. One of my problems (OK, so I lied — I’ll rehash one problem) is that I have this irrational feeling when I pull up a blank document on my computer that whatever I write has to be perfect. Whatever pours from my fingers into the keyboard isn’t a draft, it’s a final, publication-ready masterpiece. And that, of course, is just dumb. It’s also one of the chief causes of my creative paralysis.

Therefore, I’m hoping I’m able to trick my head into loosening up some by using tools which, by their very nature, can’t be used for a final draft. Anything I write on the loose-leaf paper I bought a few nights ago will automatically have to go through the revision process when I type it in, so, really, it’s okay to let it suck. I’m gearing up to try actually working on one of the stories that’s been simmering in my head for awhile, so wish me luck.

And wish Tim luck while you’re at it. He’s going the “if I tell the public that I’m going to write $thing, people will by-damn hold me to it” road, so I’m throwing all of the considerable support of Do or Do Not his way. Get to work, Tim!

(Speaking of rehashing, by the way: it turns out this is the second time I’ve written on this topic. The first time was almost exactly a year ago. I’m sure there’s something to be said in there for the cyclical nature of something or other, but I couldn’t possibly tell you what it was. Unless I went and wrote it out longhand first.)

Written by Allen

May 22nd, 2006 at 9:55 pm

Posted in Writing

2 Responses to 'On Pre-Writing and Rewriting'

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  1. Larry McMurtry is one of the most profilic writers out there and Lonesome Dove is one of my all-time favorites. He uses a typewriter, not a computer (a fact I learned, as I’m sure you did, by watching this year’s Oscars). I’ve often thought about doing the same thing. My problem is that it’s just too damn easy to hit that backspace button on my keyboard and yeah, I get bogged down in making everything perfect as hard as I try NOT to.

    I think a typewriter would help me because it doesn’t lend itself well to simultaneous writing and editing the way a computer does. I am CONSTANTLY fighing the English major in me when I write. That, and a typewriter has the added benefit of tangible results right there in front of you. You can actually SEE the page of writing you just typed, pull it out, and add it to the growing stack. I imagine that would provide much-needed incentive.

    And here’s another thought: instead of writing ABOUT writing on this blog, why not show us a little of what you’ve written? (I realize I’m being a major hypocrite here, lol)

    On a side note, I’ve been enjoying the pop culture commentary. While I don’t completely share your love of all things Sorkin (but that’s a whole other comment post), I’ve always liked reading your entertainment writing.

    amy

    23 May 06 at 10:32 am

  2. And here’s another thought: instead of writing ABOUT writing on this blog, why not show us a little of what you’ve written?

    This thought actually occurred to me while I was writing this post last night. Problem is, of course, all I’ve written lately are the posts for this blog. Once that changes, though, I think I will put some stuff up here, if as proof that I’ve been working if nothing else!

    On a side note, I’ve been enjoying the pop culture commentary. While I don’t completely share your love of all things Sorkin (but that’s a whole other comment post), I’ve always liked reading your entertainment writing.

    Thank you! I realize I’ve been hitting the Sorkin thing a bit hard lately, but he’s been a big inspiration to me, especially lately as I’ve rediscovered the early seasons of The West Wing. If you do see some fiction on here soon, it’s going to be largely thanks to Mr. Sorkin.

    Glad you commented, Amy — believe it or not, I was going to email you today or tomorrow anyway, just to check in. :)

    Allen

    23 May 06 at 10:39 am

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