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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August 2, 2018

Wander-writing

Posted in Creativity, First Drafts, flow in writing, freewriting, Ideas, organizing your writing, writing techniques tagged , , , , , , , , at 10:45 am by Rebecca Hein

Wander-writing, unlike freewriting, begins with a topic or idea, but there the structure stops. In wander-writing we start approximately where we do in a first draft, but instead of trying to produce a coherent piece, we let our subject take us wherever it goes.

I also do this frequently with any project I’ve already begun, but feel is going off the rails, even slightly. It’s an easy, relaxing way to explore my ideas and to tackle problems of organization or approach. After enough wander-writing for this purpose, I usually discover that my difficulties have resolved themselves, and I can easily complete whatever I was working on.

The supreme virtue of wander-writing is our liberation from any requirement to impose order on what we’re writing, to improve it, to stay on topic, or to revise. The rule is to let the subject lead us to what we are really thinking, or what we most want to write about it. This sweeps aside mental clutter and also deepens our writing—important benefits of letting our creative selves go.

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 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.

May 11, 2013

Keep Going, Part Five

Posted in Momentum in writing, slumps in writing, Stages, Success tagged , , at 1:22 pm by Rebecca Hein

Due to my recent success in finding paid writing work, I now see the full value of action and the corresponding danger of feelings. Writing, writing, writing my way to proficiency has given me ability I can count on. Doubting the worth of that action could have stopped me.

All through the years, it felt like there were two of me. One was writing and the other was thinking that the whole effort was useless. The former turned out to be significant, producing something real and tangible. The latter proved to have no reality at all, creating noise in my soul, yet never actually ruining my work.

Therefore, if you don’t yet know how your writing life will turn out, why listen to feelings that could stop you? Instead write daily or as often as you can, and this will move you forward and could even put you where you most want to be.

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