Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A Writer's Life (This Blog Exercises My Writing Muscles)

I just finished writing 2 1/2 pages in my bachelors project in 2 hours, after taking an hour or so last night to write a page of crap that I'll need to fix later. Feeling good about it, yeah.

A friend brought up a good comparison between our blogging styles. Since then, I believe her's has and that she has disbanded the blog she used to compare with mine. No matter, she made a good comparison that went something like:

i was discussing blogs with a friend, and we were agreeing on how we tend to use our writing styles to try to entertain our audience, instead of just writing to write at times. which is probably why i don't necessarily write that often. because i don't necessarily feel entertaining all the time, and my focus goes awry at times.

OK, maybe she didn't explicitly compare our blogs, but I did. The comparison doesn't affect my confidence or anything. Rather, it gives me a pretty good topic to ruminate upon.

Before last night, I hadn't written since about exactly a week ago, on Tuesday. I had either gotten too busy or too tired.

Wednesday -- Late night concert

Thursday -- Failed attempt at getting people together for dinner then too tired and frustrated

Friday -- Went to Second City with the fiancee, a person who didn't make it the night before and a friend of hers.

Saturday -- Fiancee's brother came into the city, so we all hung out for awhile.

Sunday -- Drove out to the suburbs for a "family" reunion (too complicated and personal to get into on the blog).

OK, well. . .that explains why I felt so exhausted and tired last night. It might even invalidate the point I wanted to make but probably not totally. All the running around during the weekend, though, does help provide a contributing factor to the whole exhaustion and writing crap last night.

But right, the point: To get a good finished product, a writer needs to get something down first, no matter how bad it is. The fiancee and I explained it to a psychiatrist friend we have during the "family" reunion. He showed a lot of wonder at the revelation, and I think the dedicated humbleness it takes to get something down on paper, no matter how much it sucks.

I told him something that pretty much worked out to:

A good writer doesn't write well, they revise well.

Sure, we all have the experience of having to write a paper, turning in a first draft then getting an A on that paper. I won't even bother arguing whether that can happen consistently or not. Making some kind of argument about having it happen because of procrastination and last minute stress won't help me that much, either. Someone could do it all the time, and they could do it without any pressure. All the power to them. Keep on doing it and make the world better.

Most of us, though, have that internal censor that makes it hard to put something down on paper unless it meets our idea of perfect. After all, once it's there or printed, it really can't get taken away. Maybe so on a computer, but I'll just delay the "writing" stage to the point at which what gets typed gets printed or published on some kind of Website.

For those plagued by the perfection censor bug while writing, though, succumbing to it can really hurt writing productivity and creativity. Someone can spend so much time getting all critical about what comes out of their head that they'll get into the habit of censoring EVERYTHING, kinda like when I get used to pushing a button, looking for something then push it again, even when I've found that something. That person could end up censoring their good ideas and forgetting them.

Another problem comes from looking at a small detail rather than looking at the big picture or just not caring about the details just yet. Good, efficient problem solving requires looking at the whole picture. Sometimes looking at the trees rather than the forest or vice versa can make it hard figure out a point. The point in an argument means practically nothing with the argument to frame it. At the same time, an argument has no foundation without the points that make it.

Writing without discrimination can help build an argument or story, whether a good one or a bad one. After finishing it, someone can look at it to see how much integrity it has. The nitpicking can happen then because some kind of larger frame exists. That frame still might change, but changing it with a frame in existence can prove much easier than trying to create the whole house in one fell swoop.

I honestly can't think of a good physical example to provide a trope for it. Maybe a boat in a bottle? Can't make a bottle around a boat, but you can build a boat inside a bottle. The heat of molding glass would burn the boat, but the manipulating of a boat inside a bottle won't necessarily break the glass.

Not a great metaphor, I know, but I'm just writing on the fly right now, too. Maybe I won't come back to this entry and fine tune it, but writing here flexes my writing muscles (which demonstrates another point I wanted to make: you can come up with some good ideas by mistake after letting your mind free to wander. . .even though a slight framework does help every once in awhile, too -- an angle, a purpose, etc. etc.). Exercising the creative writing muscles doesn't actually make anything bigger. Rather, it makes the perfectionistic urge and fear smaller.

I also flexing the writing muscles can help make confidence grow, too, along with humbleness. Without confidence, a person won't take the chance to make a mistake and write something imperfect. Without humbleness, the same person won't swallow their pride and accept that they don't consciously know everything. After all, as much as writing most often presses for a certain point, a true engagement with writing will bring about deeper understanding about said points that will bring the writer closer to the truth. To write a good argument or a story with truth, it requires such direct and scary engagement that to reach that point, a writer may need to sacrifice a part of their self and build a new stronger, more flexible yet truer aspect.

Rollo May also had expounded a theory that says our mind continues the creative work while away from our product, but we need to try working on that product and truly engage it before our unconscious mind will work on it while we do something else or rest. By exercising the writing muscle, a person will habituate their mind to ruminate on its own and hopefully without the writer having to hear it (because, let me tell you, hearing myself ruminate all the time can become quite a tiring chore and bore), engage a topic and look at it in ways that the inhibited conscious mind may not be able to do. After all, our unconscious minds aren't so susceptible to our censor. Just look at the dreams you have.

My mind has just gone kaput, though, so I will end here. As with exeercising our physical muscles, the writing muscles can only work so hard without rest and rejuvenation.


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