Sunday, September 05, 2010

Complaint About Stream of Consciousness Writing: Don't Always Know When I'm Done


Previous entry in this series is Start of a Series -- Two Experiments in One: Beat Structure and Shorter Blog Entries.

Stream of consciousness writing doesn't provide obvious clues of completion. For instance, I started drafting the last paragraph [of the last blog entry] using stream of consciousness process. I could have spent hours writing, ending up with a page or two of unneeded text. Thankfully, during some downtime, I realized that I had gone on a useless tangent.

In that case, I tried justifying that wasted time caused by stream of consciousness writing, as a topic, deserved a whole section of its own. Things I don't like about stream of consciousness writing all end up wasting time. Instead of being a topic, in itself, wasting time provides a transition and introduction to my complaints.

Sometimes a subject or topic seems good to put into a piece or seems vital to give receive attention, for whatever reason. Maybe the subject or topic incidentally popped into my head and it has nothing to do with the project. A conclusion or direction taken may end up moving away from the original intention. I often reach a point where I want a topic or angle in the piece, but the topic or angle doesn't fit gracefully.

I want to have these things in the piece, but it doesn't feel right. I just need to keep exploring the facts, the ideas and the logic. I need to justify having it there or discover a conclusion that feels right. Whatever happens, though, the task just keeps going on and on and on.

Only overwhelming frustration and exhaustion stop me. All that work, all that investment, for hours and hours, and I get nowhere. I just wanted

  • Things to work according to my vision
  • To follow the stream of consciousness that came pouring out to its logical end or
  • + To experience the eureka effect
Instead, the stream of consciousness whips me all about and tires me out. Maybe I can do something with some of the raw material later, but I can't predict the utility. None of it could have any worth, for all I know.

I figure I'll stop right when it feels right. The problem: it never feels right until I have a solid sense of the end goal.


Link of Interest: eureka effect

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Start of a Series -- Two Experiments in One: Beat Structure and Shorter Blog Entries


This entry starts a series of entries. I started writing a larger essay then got the compulsion to publish sections of it as I finish. This way feels more amenable to the blog form compared to my usual long essay form.

I need a better writing process. An afternoon and evening wasted a couple weeks ago writing a blog entry that I never published made this point clear. Take into further consideration that

  • I've been working on my bachelor's project for 10+ years
  • Regular frustration of too much time spent writing without enough returns
  • That I want to have a career in writing some day
I need a more efficient writing process and experimenting with a beat process feels like a good place to start.

Up to now for blog entries, I've mostly used a stream of consciousness approach. Only about five years ago did I start using an outline process for my expository writing to any extent. My outlining process still follows a linear stream of consciousness approach, however. Linear and stream of consciousness have their places; probably not with the early stages of purposeful dramatic and expository writing. I run into too many disadvantages.

Linear stream of consciousness writing with a clear end goal becomes time and effort consuming. Numerous distractions steer writers away from efficiency and productivity. To me, these pitfalls don't offer returns worth the investment.

The next entry in this series is Complaint About Stream of Consciousness Writing: Don't Always Know When I'm Done.