Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chi! Chi! Chi! Le! Le! Le!

Let's hear it for the rescue of the Chilean miners! For those of us who have claustrophobic tendencies, this has been a very disturbing 70 days. I'm happy for the 15 or so men who have made it out alive and hope the rest of them get out without any problems.

Spontaneity. Do you do anything to ensure that your writing has and preserves a layer of spontaneity? I think for me, I lot of energetic writing happens in my first or early drafts. And lately I've been working to not lose that energy. I know with Scott and his outlining, the spontaneity also can come in the early drafts, when he allows himself to deviate from the outline.

What about you? How do you keep that energy alive? Do you even want to?


  1. I'm super claustrophobic, and because I read empathetically, I had a hard time getting through those news articles without panicking. I'm very happy for their release, and I hope the are able to stay healthy in the main with re-exposure to the above-ground world.

    Spontaneity. I'm not a spontaneous person. Spontaneity sort of makes me go all fripl inside.

    Before I sit down to write, I have typically pre-written a great portion of the text in my head over the course of a day or two, including working, reworking, and revising it.

    For me, that's how I keep it energetic is by keeping the pre-writing process alive. If I sit down to write without pre-writing, it works, but it's much more lifeless. When I have a prewritten core, though, the energy seems to flow through and generate life.

    So I get the energy by eschewing spontaneity altogether.

    I think. I may also be misinterpreting my own self. That happens a lot.

  2. Nevets, I get that. A few months ago, I tried to not write until after I had a whole story in my head. When I finally did sit down to write, my fingers couldn't move fast enough. It was quite an experience. In the end, the two stories I wrote that way didn't quite work for me personally, but there were some real advantages to that process.

  3. I've thrown spontaneous nuggets in the final stages of revision, but I don't go looking for them at that stage. Sometimes the late-course deviation undoes too much, or it opens plot holes if you're not careful.

  4. One way I try not to lose that spontaneity after the first draft is to push scenes during the revision process as a form of experimentation. I usually highlight the experiment in green. Sometimes what I discover stays, or replaces what was there, but at the very least it keeps my mind open while preserving the structure of the story.

    And yes, let's hear it for the rescue of the Chilean miners!!!

  5. So happy to see the first half of the miners making it out alright and being reunited with their families!

    On keeping spontaneity in my writing: I try not to over think it at any point during the writing process. Especially during first drafts. I'm trying to keep a go with the flow attitude, which is especially easy to do if you write your first draft in say 3 days (a la 3-Day Novel Contest).

    I guess the final draft is the only point where I'm all "over-think" this!! But by then, hopefully, there's enough of the good stuff in there. And since I actually like editing, I don't worry about keeping the energy alive during the editing process; I already enjoy it and if I did the writing part right, the energy should be in the writing.

  6. I add my cheers to yours for the miners. Remember when the estimate for rescuing them was Christmas?

    Spontaneity: What I try to do, no matter if it's a first draft, an outline, or a fifth revision, is constantly ask myself as I read each passage what else the passage reminds me of. I try to brainstorm and throw disconnected ideas at the story all the time, and some of them work in surprising and delightful ways, and some of them don't work at all. But really, my whole technique involves a continuous re-examination of the basic story ideas and a search for ways to make the narrative open-ended instead of a tidy, closed system. In other words, I think, I just let myself sort of daydream while I'm outlining/drafting/revising and not let myself stop asking "what if" questions about the story.

  7. I think a lot of my spontaneity has been hacked out with revisions. So, that's what I'm working toward now--leaving some of it in just because...well...just because I can!

  8. @Domey - That experience you had of your fingers not being able to keep up is what I find energizing. It's a rush. lol

  9. I can't outline worth a darn, and usually start with a couple of intriguing characters, a vague idea or two, and then I let their motivations and interactions lead me to the plot, which tends to be messy. It's a lot of spontaneity. I do think over things a lot, but when I write, because of the uncertainty of where it's all leading, I get to find out lots of stuff as I'm going along.

    I suspect this reply is too spontaneous.

  10. I'm not sure I'm able to do it. A published writer says that for him he works on the first draft in such a way that when he reaches the end, he's done. It must be nice. He edits and rewrites as he goes. He says that it helps keep the writing alive.

  11. Coming from a three generation gold-mining family I've definitely been cheering the Chilean miners on.

    As I don't plot or outline, my first draft writing is highly spontaneous, but requires a huge amount of work afterwards.

  12. As I draft I like to let things grow organically, if at all possible. This is restricted a bit by my outline, but my outline was where I truly let things just go wherever they wanted. I spend a good deal of time on the outline and then I write the draft. If things take different turns there I'm pretty flexible with it. I kind of think it like a checks and balances system even though that sounds really boring and not spontaneous at all.

    I think, however, that I'm more spontaneous now than I have ever been in my writing. I've gained more courage to try different things from my normal path.


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