Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I recently presented a student writing activity that didn't go as well as it had in my mind when I planned it. That learning experience helped me this past week, as I worked up a creative writing activity for a student writers event coming up soon. I realized there could be a different outcome than what I imagined. I looked for weaknesses in my plan and "tweaked" my steps and directions until I was satisfied. When I was done, I found it interesting how the activity had evolved. I ended up with something quite different than what I originally envisioned.

Writing a book often follows a similar process. You begin with an idea, not knowing exactly where you will end up or how you will get there. You type up your original idea, then stare at the screen and mull, add a little, subtract a little, mull some more, drag this part around and drop it somewhere that fits better, stare some more, etc. In fact, this ease of computerized writing and editing has freed me up immensely since the days of pen and paper, when my words looked so much more permanent, and seemed so much harder to rearrange.

Sometimes you realize that a whole section just isn't working, no matter how you move it around or tweak it. Your creative voice says, "I can't just delete that whole section! I spent a lot of time creating that!" But your self-critiquing voice says, "Yes, you know you must delete it. Be a big girl and just do it." As soon as you do, you feel relieved because you can see that now you are in a better position to get where you were going.

The more you write, the more ideas you get. Some you try out, then discard, then try another direction. The very process of thinking, writing it out, and editing leads to more creative thinking. As you go back and read aloud, you fix typos and find words that don't sound quite right. Even creating this blog post followed the exact scenario I've described.

Sometimes I am leery of starting a new writing project because I am not confident in my ability to come up with good work. Yet every time I make myself begin, I find I can trust this process, and I gain more faith in it. I choose not to listen to my excuses.