Thursday, July 2, 2009


Those who know me know I have a problem with writing. It's not that I write poorly, as I hope a quick sampling of this blog would show. I've never gotten a grade below A- in any English class, and a large part of that is my cumulative essay grade. (Certainly it's not my work ethic.) No, writing well is not the problem. Writing quickly is the problem. I take forever to put fingers to keyboard, far longer to put pen to paper. Every sentence is a hard-fought battle against my twin desires to rewrite the sentence (I'm doing it now, with this sentence--and yes, I often end up with long paranthetical remarks as a result of this) and to go surfing my routine websites (a smattering of webcomics, manga websites, and Facebook-related material) for the umpteenth time just to get away from the writing.

This difficulty is made infinitely more frustrating by the fact that I deeply enjoy writing. As an avid reader, it's hard for me not to fantasize about turning my own ideas into essays and stories--hence this blog, at least regarding the essays part. I look forward to filling white space with words, words that interconnect to form rich dialogue, complex analysis, (I'm freezing up again here, trying to come up with another example to fill the gap and fit the rule of three) evocative poesy, and all the other types of literature I so eagerly gobble up from the reader's end. (My brain is screaming "aagh, repetition!" I'm trying to ignore it.) I go on Facebook and read my friends' poems, stories, and essays, and I think, "I want to do that!" or even "I could do better than that!" Yet my resolve dwindles after another few (synonym for frustrating, synonym for frustrating...ah, what the heck) hours watching a white screen remain infuriatingly (yay, found a synonym!) blank--unless I fill the screen (and the time) with games or other escapes.

Much of the problem is what rests between my ears--not too little, but too much. This is not a reference to my intellect, but rather to my extraordinary dependence on mapping out everything I plan to write before writing anything at all. (I'm doing it now--gotta stop, gotta stop!) The papers I turn in for my English classes are generally my first drafts--with an inner voice driving me to perfect everything as I write it, revision often proves redundant. Yet going through the whole process of revision would still take less time than the time it takes me to produce those first drafts, more because the tension of producing quality work according to plan in one go drives me quite literally to distraction than because it's more difficult to produce quality work. Write well, write quickly, or write according to plan--I can only do two of the three at any given time.

Therefore, I'm now working on how to facilitate the interplay of planning and writing so that each helps, rather than hinders, the other. As part of this exercise, I'm writing a story. What kind of story? I had no idea when it started. I went with a bar joke and let the characters play out from there. As I write, the story takes shape--something like the result of a three-way between Watchmen, R.A. Salvatore's work, and Order of the Stick. That's if the story doesn't change, which it's guaranteed to, but so it goes. From here on out, I'll post weekly updates to the story, and I promise they will be substantial. I mean, as long as I'm producing large quantities of verbeage, why not throw it to whatever snarling Internet trolls (or possibly even reasonable people, if I'm lucky) might frequent this blog?


Alioth said...

I know you're sick and tired of hearing this, but... outlines, boy, outlines. Half-written thoughts. Shitty first drafts. Braindumps. Talking to yourself and transcribing that directly, 'like's and all.

I managed to write an entire UROP proposal in a day that way -- and I had been stressing out about it for many days before that, not having received enough material to complete it (which wasn't an excuse to not start, but I was also being lazy).

One thing I like about plaintext editors (or LaTeX) is that they help you break through the myth of shiny exterior and really focus on the content. When you're just trying to get thoughts on paper, worrying about making shiny sentences is just as distracting as worrying about what font to use.

Asher said...

you are something else. a real piece of work.