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I've written stories ever since I could write, but somewhere along the way I seem to have lost the joy and natural desire to write for me. Churning out stories every other week for my degree course, and forcing non-existent brilliance out of myself has drained my natural spirit. So, I have created myself a blog in an attempt to find a way back to what made me fall in love with writing in the first place. Only you and I will discover if I fail or succeed...

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

I Which I ... Just Write

I had one week to write the first 1,000 words of a story and make them good enough to be scrutinised in an individual tutorial. Simple, no? Not quite. I already had the first 500 words – a short, problem-solution arc about a helpful imp – which I planned to expand into a novel.[1] But it was the expansion that was proving difficult. How could the lowly student writer turn a complete, enclosed short story into a novel? I knew where I wanted it to go – an exotic, far-off location – but how to get there when the initial plot movement had been completed? I ummed and ahhed. And blah-di-blahed. And then fell asleep.[2]

When I woke up, I lazily thought about my story in the semi-conscious haze of foggy dawn.[3] My thoughts collected themselves into a few coherent sentences and, said sentences jumping excitedly on my brain like children on Christmas Day morning, I had to jump up and type them out before they got lost in the abyss of abandoned thoughts waiting to be Re-cycled[4] into never-existence.

A little less than an hour later, 1,233 new words stared at me through my laptop screen.[5] Put it down to the blended colours of sleep and wakefulness if you’d like, but I think there was more shape and discipline to my achievement. During the hour at my laptop I wrote. Just wrote. No in-head or on-screen editing. I let in the boring bits, the grammatical mistakes, the bits that made no sense. I held back my usual tinkering with inadequate words, going back to add in new plot details, or going over and over[6] sticky dialogue.I charged through the story, letting it drive me. Yes, when I edited it three days later I cut 515 words, but I had something to work with. You can’t improve if there’s nothing to work on.

So, the moral of this story is, just write. Call it directed free-writing, ka[7], whatever you like: write.

Until next time. Ttfn xx

[1]The start of, anyway. A 5,000 word assignment is no place for a hobbit novel.
[2]It was night time, mind you. One does not simply walk into Mordor sleep.
[3]And in the knowledge that I didn’t have to get up early.
[4]A very imaginative movie. Weird and sad and thought-provoking, but good in an award-deserving way.
[5]After which I proceeded to do absolutely nothing at all for the rest of the day. And almost wished the ring words had never come to me.
Nb. You may have notice several ‘almost’ Lord of the Rings film references creeping into my footnotes. Yes, I watched the film three days ago. No, you shall not pass it off as poor editing; they are intentionally whimsical.
[6]And over and over and over.
[7]See Stephen King’s The Dark Tower septilogy, particularly Song of Susannah (the one where he writes himself into the story...no comment on that).