Sometimes, I write fast. Other times, not so much.
In fact, some days the tick of the clock in my office seems as horrible as Chinese water torture with its insistent reminder of the words I’m not writing. Tick. (I’ve got laundry to do.) Tock. (Better answer this email.) Tick. (The dog needs some exercise.) Tock. (I’m stuck on this chapter.) Tick. (What’s that scratching in the wall?) Old Edgar Allen Poe’s got nothing on my overactive imagination.
While my imagination might be rampant, it can get spooled in my head, a hard ball of ideas that doesn’t want to roll out through my pen or my keyboard. Sometimes, instead of the traditional writer’s block, a sort of idea “desert”, I have the kind of block that consists of a big, fat, wad of thoughts that won’t disengage from each other enough to make one sensible story.
So, I write fast.
I find that writing speedily without caring if my ideas make sense is a great way to write myself out of a corner. Even if my prose seems nonsensical at first, it often resolves itself into a strong, sensible pattern within fifteen or twenty minutes of writing. Even all the babble at the beginning is often usable; it’s been the source of some of my more twisted pieces of fiction.
I know it seems odd to tell you to write fast when you’re having trouble writing at all, but believe me, it works. Some call this “stream of consciousness” writing, but I don’t agree. It’s not quite random thoughts, like true stream-of-consciousness. In fact, I almost always have a topic or goal in mind when I write fast, it’s just the ideas that are unprocessed as they fall onto the page in word form.
The best part of this exercise is the freedom you feel when there is no need to worry about your grammar, diction, point-of-view errors or punctuation. It’s writing as an art in it’s most elemental form. It’s soul-lifting, idea-birthing deep work for writers. So, give yourself the gift of free-range writing. Just do it. Put all those thoughts and ideas out there.
You can worry about editing later. In fact, there’s plenty of writers who feel writing is made better by having less restriction during the creative phase. The editing phase is for, well, editing. Do it then and your writing will be better for it. As writer Peter de Vries said: “Sometimes I write drunk and revise sober, and sometimes I write sober and revise drunk. But you have to have both elements in creation — the Apollonian and the Dionysian, or spontaneity and restraint, emotion and discipline.”
So, be spontaneous — go write fast!
See you on the next page!