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On writing: get lost

September 5, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

The other day, I read an interesting article entitled, Letter to a Young Writer: ‘Get Lost’.

The subject of the article wasn’t new, but it was presented in a fresh way from a different perspective. It was written by a journalist, who after a number of years of writing articles for a newspaper, decided he wanted something more, something beyond just writing facts about the news. He wanted to do something creative.

After enrolling in a writing workshop and going through a number of exercises intended to spur creativity, the instructor gave an assignment consisting of daily unstructured writing, where all that was required was to type/write three pages of words. That’s it, just three pages. Oh, and you’re not to read what you’ve written. The idea behind this was, of course, to encourage people to sit and write, to put words to paper on a consistent basis, to get those creative juices flowing.

Most of us are familiar with this idea, and some of us actually put it into practice. Then there are some, like me, who are still finding their way through this thing called writing. It’s helpful to hear good ideas like this multiple times, because eventually they will sink in.

Some snippets from the article that caught my attention:

“In the creative process, the work of art comes from the process.”

“I found that my best sentence of the day almost always came after two or three pages of drivel. But I needed the drivel to get to it.”

“Now, when I feel stuck in a writing project or simply run out of ideas, I don’t panic, nor do I start trying to plan. I just sit down and start writing, confident that if I stick with it, I’ll lose my way and find my story.”

So now, the next time you feel like you’re struggling to get words out and onto the page, remember what the author of this article said:

“The best writing advice I ever got was to get lost.”

–dp

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  1. September 6, 2013 at 4:56 am

    Great article and great advice, Dave. Sometimes my inner editor that demands perfection has a hard time getting “lost,” but when I do, it’s a great feeling and a better work product.

    • September 6, 2013 at 8:26 pm

      Thanks, Jill. That inner editor is awful, and it works hard at sucking away your creativity. I love it when I’m able to turn it off and just write … I agree that it’s a wonderful feeling to just let the words flow. I’m always so much happier when I’m able to do so.

  2. September 6, 2013 at 7:57 am

    Love it. So very true.

  3. September 6, 2013 at 8:14 am

    A nice reminder that you don’t have to write a perfect draft every time. And, as I like to remember, a lot of writing is analogous to playing scales in music: it might not be exciting, but it makes you better.

    • September 6, 2013 at 7:55 pm

      Absolutely. Perfect comparison.

  4. September 6, 2013 at 9:22 am

    Great article. Have you seen 750words.com? I like the simple design and the analysis it produces of your writing each day is interesting. Plus a little cartoon badge is surprisingly motivating at 7am.

    • September 6, 2013 at 6:36 pm

      I’ve heard about the idea of doing 750 words per day, but not 750words.com. Pretty cool idea. I take it you use it to do your 750/day (or however often you do it)? I do like the idea of the small rewards based on how well you do. Makes it a challenge 🙂

  5. September 6, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    This reminds me I have a &%$* story to finish.

    • September 6, 2013 at 6:16 pm

      Ha ha ha … jeez, Eric. You crack me up. Well, I guess I should say, go finish that story 🙂

  6. September 7, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    The last quote is what has gotten me through NaNoWriMo. I just get lost and so I write. Great post, Dave!

    • September 7, 2013 at 9:18 pm

      Thanks, Marie … glad you enjoyed. Me, I need to get lost more often 🙂 I’m still contemplating NaNoWriMo. My dad passed away last November, so I’m not sure if I feel I’m up to dedicating it to him, or whether I feel like I just need to let it pass.

      • September 8, 2013 at 5:26 am

        You could write about him. It could be a good way to cope with your loss and honor him as well. Just because it’s called Novel Writing Month doesn’t mean you actually have to write a novel ;).

      • September 8, 2013 at 1:31 pm

        Ha ha … yeah, you’re right. Lots of people don’t write a novel but instead accumulate writing on various topics. I’ve been meaning to write about my dad and my mom and their story … perhaps this would be the perfect time to do it. Ideally, I’d like to wrap it all up within a love story, because how they met and their early years together would fit perfectly into that genre. Of course, I have no idea how to write a romantic story, but this could be a time to try it out 🙂

      • September 8, 2013 at 3:40 pm

        Don’t worry about whether you know how to write a romantic story. Just write their story as it comes to you. You can work out the genre later 🙂

      • September 9, 2013 at 9:28 am

        Hmm … good point. Sheesh … sometimes the obvious isn’t so obvious 🙂

      • September 9, 2013 at 10:07 am

        I hope you don’t feel pressured by me. I just think it would be wonderful if you gave it a try 🙂

      • September 9, 2013 at 10:17 am

        No pressure at all. I just felt rather stupid for trying to pigeonhole my story from the beginning rather than simply writing it and allowing it to go where it wanted to go. You were simply nice enough to point that out to me 🙂

  7. September 8, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    I should take the advice to just write, and not read what is written. Actually, you inspired me. I think I might do that for a week, then look back and see what I like out of what I come up with. I have a first-draft problem. I always want to edit, so bad, but I know that’s a terrible idea. I still can’t stop myself!

    • September 9, 2013 at 9:30 am

      Yeah, I struggle with the same problem, though I’m slowly getting better. All I know is when I do let myself get lost in my writing, I’m almost always happy with what I end up with, regardless of whether it needs it editing or not. Good luck … let me know how the writing goes!

  8. September 9, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    I love getting lost in words and their rhythms. It’s almost like listening to music.

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