March 28, 2012

Freewriting, Part Three: Why It’s Valuable

Posted in freewriting, Ideas, Practice Writing, Warm-Up tagged , , , , , at 12:31 pm by Rebecca Hein

Whenever I hear other writers say that freewriting is a waste of time, I always wonder what they expect of it. Useable words? New ideas?

If so, they might be disappointed. Good freewriting is sometimes so loose and disjointed that nobody can make sense of it.

If a good idea hits during freewriting, great. Grab it. If you get the revision of that key scene in your novel, wonderful. But if it’s just random words, don’t be deceived: the process is inherently valuable.

Freewriting teaches ease and flow, and you have to trust that even if your language is empty and chaotic, the experience of pouring out words—any words—is well worthwhile.


October 26, 2011

Artful Disguise

Posted in Ideas tagged , , at 5:14 pm by Rebecca Hein

Cellists face a set of unavoidable problems in playing, such as how to disguise the moment when we must change bow direction, thus breaking the sound. In a similar way, a writer can’t create a perfectly smooth narrative because specific points of information must be conveyed to the reader.

In music, if you achieve sufficient momentum, this in turn creates resonance which vibrates throughout bow changes and cover them up. The writer’s equivalent is to launch a story with enough energy in it, early on, that the necessary information emerges naturally. Then the reader is less likely to notice the device used.

April 27, 2011

How Ideas Behave

Posted in Ideas, Uncategorized tagged at 5:00 am by Rebecca Hein

A good writing idea is wild, like music. If a catchy tune sets your toe tapping, it has done its job. In writing, this vitality often emerges in raw ideas that won’t behave until they are first allowed to run free. Like the wind, they rush through you, refusing to be tamed, and the best you can do is capture their shape.

December 8, 2010

Why Your Idea is Better Than Mine

Posted in Ideas tagged , , at 9:45 am by Rebecca Hein

Years ago in cello teaching, I realized that I should let my students make their own discoveries. I quit offering instruction or even advice, instead waiting to observe their difficulties as they struggled to manage their own learning.

I commiserated, encouraged, and did more listening than ever before in my career. And I saw what happened when they were thus forced to rely on themselves. Insights burst upon them in their practicing and they’d arrive at their lessons so excited at what they’d taught themselves that they couldn’t wait to tell me. They never forgot their own revelations, nor failed to apply them.

So it is with your writing. I might have more experience, perhaps more confidence, and more publication credits. But I can’t put my ideas or even my best insights into your head. It would be too much like an organ transplant: it likely wouldn’t take, but more to the point, what you generate will be perfectly compatible with who you are and what you need to write.

December 1, 2010

Why Today’s Idea is Better Than Yesterday’s

Posted in Ideas tagged , , at 9:30 am by Rebecca Hein

Today’s idea is fresh. It floats at you in the first flush of your warm-up or practice session, and can become pure experience, unmediated by any leftover instructions from your teacher or your own expectations.

Pure experience can produce an idea or narrative so powerful that you are compelled to share not only that particular story or poem but the magical process that led up to it. Once your process is as creative as your product, you’ve tapped into your deepest springs of creativity.

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