August 16, 2018

Keeping a journal

Posted in Flow, flow in writing, freewriting, journal writing, Momentum in writing, writing productivity tagged , , , at 2:44 pm by Rebecca Hein

Keeping a journal, although not quite as unstructured as freewriting or wander-writing, is still an important form of undirected writing. Here you get to write down your thoughts, feelings, and ideas in any order you wish, and as often or seldom as you want.

Presumably you mean to write somewhat coherently so that later you can refer to an entry and make sense of it. Freewriting and wander-writing require much less structure, if any. Therefore, journal-writing may not benefit you in precisely the same way as freer types of writing, and should not replace them.

This is because when we try to govern what we’re writing, even on the minimal level of a journal entry, we lose a degree of freedom and momentum. We experience these two elements only when we’ve removed all rules and expectations.

If we want to progress, freedom and momentum are the most important in our total writing experience, because they will find their way into all our writing efforts. Then we will discover their entire value.

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July 18, 2018

Freewriting

Posted in Flow, flow in writing, freewriting, Momentum in writing tagged , , at 4:30 pm by Rebecca Hein

Freewriting is probably the “purest” form of undirected writing. In freewriting, you have no goal except to write. Whatever comes into your head, you write down. Even if it’s vapid, banal, repetitious, dull, or meaningless, you just keep transcribing your thoughts. This may feel like an empty exercise, but it isn’t.

In freewriting you’re writing continuously, gaining momentum as you go. How often do we get this flow of language during our consciously directed writing, whether it’s a draft of an article, essay, short story, or novel chapter? Not often enough make it a habit.

The regular experience of effortless flow is practically guaranteed to make all your writing easier. Therefore, the more consistently you do your freewriting, the likelier it is that the rest of your work will improve.

July 5, 2018

Why you should do undirected writing

Posted in freewriting, Momentum in writing tagged , , at 5:46 am by Rebecca Hein

The virtue of undirected writing is that it removes pressure. If you have neither plan nor destination, you don’t have a standard either, and this is relaxing.

Our minds behave differently when we’re not focusing on anything in particular. This is probably one of the best ways to induce good ideas: Your unconscious may be stewing over a problem in one of your writing projects, or maybe you just need a new direction in your work. Solutions and insights are much more likely to pop out when you’re not trying to get at them.

The other major advantage to all kinds of undirected writing is that you are writing, no matter what. For writers, it’s as important to write as it is to produce finished work.

Suppose you’re struggling with a chapter of your novel or memoir and it just won’t behave. Aside from the frustration this causes, it often slows your output. Although we don’t have to write publishable material at maximum speed all the time, it’s still good to feel that we’re progressing.

If undirected writing is part of your routine, you’ll always be writing, no matter what’s happening with the rest of your work. This helps keep you in shape, creates momentum, and may even shorten the inevitable slumps and periods of discouragement that plague us all.

March 6, 2018

A successful story; a flaw in the plot

Posted in Creativity, Fiction Writing, Flow, flow in writing, Harmony, Momentum in writing, music and writing, performance tagged , , , , , , , at 6:05 pm by Rebecca Hein

As we have seen, creative momentum can sweep the reader along, sometimes with such power that he or she doesn’t notice small faults in our plot or narrative. Since nobody can craft a story perfect in every technical detail, we need to generate this excitement to help our mission—to communicate the message that won’t leave us alone until we’ve at least tried to express it.

Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment is a good example of a story with a powerful message, embedded in a plot with at least one rather large flaw. How can the story succeed when the author obviously painted himself into a corner and, to escape it, has stretched the actions of one minor character beyond what’s plausible?

This contradiction—a compelling story with a significant flaw that doesn’t diminish the power of the narrative—has sent me back to the book several times, trying to figure out how the author did it.

In my own writing, I want the state of mind that can fire a brilliant story. As with my cello playing, I know that if I achieve total absorption for myself and my audience, they will be more likely to forget my small errors.

March 1, 2018

The passion behind your writing can compensate for small errors

Posted in Creativity, Depth, Fiction Writing, Flow, flow in writing, Momentum in writing, music and writing, Tone tagged , , , , , , , at 5:17 pm by Rebecca Hein

Experienced musicians know that if they enthrall the audience, small imperfections can’t ruin their performance. An absorbed listener doesn’t notice an occasional out-of-tune note, or forgets it in the excitement of the music.

It’s the same in literature; while writing, if we build enough creative momentum, occasional omissions or small holes in our plot may not matter.

This is not an argument for sloppiness. We can only achieve excellence if we work at it with all our energy. However, we can’t let that high standard box us into scrutinizing every detail of our narrative at the same time we could be searching for the deep place within ourselves where we accomplish our best work.

I’m convinced that Dostoyevsky discovered that profound well of creativity while writing Crime and Punishment.

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