Where do you start writing? Where your mind takes you. The best things I’ve written come out when I let my mind work free of the jack-ass backseat driving. When I turn my obnoxiously loud inner voice and inner filter off and let the words happen of their own volition: That’s when things become solid in my writing. They form as I write them. Even when I have no idea what’s going on, the sculpture’s there–the clay is waiting for my hands to shape it later. As long as I give myself enough clay I find that the shaping always yields at worst workable, usually satsifactory results.
I write almost all my poetry in the above fashion. But is the writing process different in prose than poetry? Can you write good prose blank-minded, open-willed, unconsciously? Why yes, you can. That’s what I’m doing right now. You have to accept the words as they come and trust yourself. Really trust yourself. When you start blocking and worrying you will see the words come slower, and when you release yourself from that inner filter that stops you from shouting “god dammit” at the top of your lungs in the supermarket, you can just feel the words coming through you, from willing fingers onto the screen. It’s easy. It’s too easy.
But all great works come with severe thought, you may say. Who ever said that severe thought has to come first though? Revising allows us to apply severe thought to the clay that we were barely able to shape as we were spinning the potter’s wheel. The sculptor starts by making a frame of what he wants, then filling in the details, not by starting to craft each strand of hair, every minute detail, minutiae by minutiae, second by second.
Once you overcome the wall of limitation that you naturally impose on yourself, you can write any time. As you grow more comfortable with releasing yourself to your quiet consciousness, you will notice that your writing has a newer, better shape–it’s you. It’s your voice, front and center, and it’s sincere, good writing.
Remember: You add the fine features to the sculpture after you’ve formed the frame. Otherwise, you’re stuck.
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