Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Stop Talking. Start Writing

Welcome back, friendly reader/writer!

I have been working furiously on a number of new things, but I will not bore you with details. When I have something finished, I'll let you know.

In fact, that leads me to today's point: if you have something you want to write, just write it. All the way through, non-stop, with no regard for quality or substance. Once it is finished you can go back and make whatever changes you want. If you stop to talk about it, however, or let a pile of wrinkled note pages suffice, you might just lose the impetus for completing your work.

Want proof of this? Ask any writing how many unfinished novels, stories or pages of copious notes they have, and why they haven't finished.

I read an article this morning at Scientific American which talks about this in depth, making a connection between the Zeigarnik Effect and writing. It carefully details this 'effect' and how it might impact a writer trying to finish a story.

But I digress. What I am here to tell you is my own experience as a writer. Everything great I have ever written came out at once. Works that I have started, talked out, self-analyzed, remain unfinished. I am one of those writers with pages of unfinished novels, copious notes and notebooks jammed full of "ideas." Yet my short stories I complete in one sitting, without ever having a chance to discuss them, talk them out with my friends, or even whisper their narrative aloud. They spring fully formed from my mind to the page and are done.

Why can't I finish those other works? Perhaps because my mind believes they have already been completed.

If I had sat down and in one fell swoop finished the story which my mind had fleshed out for me; taken full advantage of the spark of creativity which my brain provided for me, perhaps I would have more published stories than I do.

As a reporter I had no choice but to finish my stories on deadline. I didn't have time to talk about it, turn the details over and over in my mind. I had to sit down and commit them to paper immediately so they could be inserted in the next day's (or sometimes even that same day's) newspaper. Because I did not give myself an opportunity to believe they were finished, they weren't finished in my mind until they were finished on paper.

I learned a valuable writing lesson as a reporter, but it has taken me until this very moment to realize what that lesson was. I talk too much and write too little.

If I expect to succeed as a writer I must do one thing, and one things only: write.

And so do you.


Paul and Rachael said...

This is very true.
Write it all down, you can always come back and fix it later.

Tonya Moore said...

You're so right. Lately I've come to realize that when there's a story brewing, it's best to just shut about it and Write... though saying this sees a bit redundant.