Discussion in 'General Writing' started by The Cuckoo's Nest, Jan 29, 2015.
Write a lil sum'pin
Ev'ryday. Don' worry 'bout
If it's any good.
I see this advice a lot here, and I while I absolutely agree with the literal meaning of the expression, sometimes I wonder what others really mean with it.
To me, "just write," doesn't mean, "just cook now and you can do the dishes later," it means writing "in the moment." Hopefully, it will lend to the appearance of a genuine and authentic voice. I believe there's a quote by a famous author, which says something along the lines of wanting to give the appearance you produced your novel in one night while drunk. I agree with this. When you write without stopping or going back, you're being yourself. Stopping, rethinking, creates artifice. Obviously this happens in later drafts, but the strength of the natural voice should already be there by the end of draft one, because you were just being yourself.
So, my question, to those who "just write," why are you choosing this method of writing? Is it to overcome fear? Do you believe in the draft method? Or do you find your best stuff comes out when you're not over thinking things?
+1 I try to write at least 1000 words a day, mostly freewriting gibberish. I give myself permission to write crap.
For me, "Just Write" means to not overthink and overcomplicate things.
Sure, plan you scenes and what you need to make it good, but don't worry about every little dialogue and sentence so that you're frozen and making zero progress.
Also, it's the perfect cure for "writer's block", the fake kind, where you're "blocked" because aren't writing and not because you found a huge issue in your story and you need to think things over but have yet to find a solution.
To me it means, start writing, one's over-planning may be getting in the way. The story tends to grow as you write, unlike building a building where you need the plans first, unless of course, you want a Winchester House.
For me it means stop re-editing what you already have and finish a damn draft already.
That's me talking to myself and not anyone else
For me, it depends on whether it’s a short story or not. If it is a short story, I will write it all the way through before I go back for another re-write. I often change the scene setting and most of the dialogue on a re-write. The motivations/characters stay the same most of the time, but sometime I’ll change a character a little bit to drive the plot better or to give them more depth.
The reason I think this method is more viable on short stories is because I change so much so often that it forces me to have to change a lot of other things. A short story isn’t long enough to make it impossibly tedious to change every part of it like that. But on a novel, sometimes changing something can change another thing way later, and it becomes harder to stay consistent and to jump around everywhere just to try and make the story concise.
So when writing novels I write around 7-10 chapters before going back for re-writes. Some people don’t agree with this, but I find it improves the overall quality much more smoothly. It isn’t un heard of either to do this. People who write scripts often rely on this method when working on a series. I believe it improves the overall quality, spreading it out consistently through your work. But this is all coming from someone that has never been published or even recognized in any writing contest. I also have yet to completely finish a novel, so take it as you will…
For me, the expression "just write" can men a number of things, and any one meaning depends on the writer's situation. For example, say I want to write a story centered around the idea of two people falling in love, but I am not quite sure what the best way to tell this story would be. In essence, the problem is that I don't really have a story in mind, just an aspect and it needs to be fleshed out. But what if I have a few different ideas of how it could work out? One solution may just be to start writing with one and see how it feels. It may mean scrapping it and trying something else later, but hey, trial and error is a part of the game.
Here's another example. Say I've started my project and have finished the first chapter. The next time I sit down, I plan to review what I've done and move on into the next chapter, buuut... two pages in, I find myself rewriting the first chapter. Before I know it, I've rewritten chapter one 10 times and it is perfect for what it is, but who's to say it will hold up once I develop the rest of the story? It may need to be revised again, or scrapped. May as well, just write as best I can and allow myself to explore the story so I can actually make progres instead of pining over chapter one page one for six months.
One more example: Say I'm working on my project, but can't quite get the sound I'm looking for in my voice, or I can't quite get things to flow naturally. Again, at some point I need to let go and just start expressing myself freely, calmly, creatively, in the moment (as you put it).
As you can see, "just write" can mean anything; however, if I may make a conjecture, the root problem that the advice is trying to solve is one of confidence. Those who need to hear/adhere to this expression are typically in a moment of uncertainty and perhaps insecurity and are looking for reassurance. The "just write" advice prompts writers to stop looking for assurance and security. It's a feeling that will either come or not depending on the type of person you are.
But that's just me going, perhaps waaaaaaay out there. lol As for me personally. I fluctuate between planning and just writing. At some point I have to allow myself room to see what the story is from allowing it to develop. Plans, in my opinion, should be more like road maps, not instructions. You may find that you need two characters to break up, but you can't decide if it should be due to infidelity, incompatibility, or something else. Just write what comes naturally and see if it fits with the characters and the story altogether. if not, you'll catch it in the review and maybe come up with a better idea.
Okay, I'm done.
"Just write" means exactly that - just write. I don't mean like "write in the moment" or "be yourself" - I do literally mean, seriously, just get some words on the page. Especially if you've taken a break, a long break in particular, you're bound to feel a little rusty and like everything you write is kinda crap - just keep going. You'll eventually get back into the groove and good stuff will come, but that won't happen if you don't "just write".
I'm actually not a fan of writing without editing - I find I'm more reluctant to reread and edit if I know it's a load of mess. I prefer to edit as I write - but I don't do it with every line or every paragraph. I do minor editing with certain paragraphs, but more or less I edit for real at the end of every scene. I find that's a good chunk to work with - long enough to get you writing and into the flow of the story, short enough to edit without feeling like it's a burden. While it's no good editing every single line in detail during your first draft, I'm absolutley not against editing every scene during your first draft. The editing is the part that makes your writing better and by doing it scene by scene, you're basically taking the workload in bite-size, manageable chunks
"Just writing" doesn't improve your writing by that much, in this sense. But "just write" is great for getting the draft done and breaking out of writer's block.
I've always employed the above "just write" method myself and I've never had writer's block. That's not to say I've never been stuck. Oh I have. But the moment I know what I'm writing, I've never struggled to write something at least half-decent and readable. However, I think that's more to do with the fact that, while I certainly know I need to keep improving and there're plenty of writers better than me, I do consider myself a good writer. I've never questioned my actual skill. I've obviously written crap scenes that should never see the light of day, but I take that as a crap scene and not because of my general writing skill being crap, and I think that makes a huuuuge difference. It does also mean doing the whole "just write" thing comes more easily, too.
To me it means to stop thinking, stop worrying, stop criticizing. Just sit down and write the damned thing. All that other stuff can (and will) come later.
I think Writer's Block exists but you have to push it off the cliff. It varies on how long it takes to do that though. For me, the longest i get is about three or four hours without any good ideas.
I think there's no one answer to that question, so everyone has to interpret for themselves and 'just write' the best way they know how.
Those words to me mean an almost free-write kind of thing. A no-holds-barred regurgitation of ideas that ignore convention and pay no attention to grammar or mechanics at all. Just the first stage of writing with a focus on nothing but content.
But for someone like James Joyce, who labored over every word to the point where a 7 word sentence was considered a good day, my definition would seem ridiculous.
Stop overthinking, start writing!
Spare time gives me a moment to brainstorm plots and characters, and too often I try to wrangle it into organization. I should use that time to actually write it out, rather than plan it to the point of restriction. A little bit of research and a skeleton of a plot are vital to something like a novel, but take it too far and one can get tired of their own work.
"Just write" for me has nothing to do with method - it has to do with mindset. To me it means stop worrying about the esoteric (should I use third person omniscient or first person? Do I develop plot first and then work on character arc?) and just start telling the story. I see so many writers worrying about these classroom discussion topics to the point where they aren't getting anywhere with the story!
So Ulysses, at 265,000 words, would have taken him 103 years to write at 7 words a day, and it was published when he was 40?
I thought "Just write" meant to stop procrastinating.
By itself, it means nothing. You have to look at the question that is being asked when "Just write" is the answer. Also, my experience is that most folks who say "just write" usually explain why they are saying it.
I think when a lot of people talk about writer's block, they mean that they know exactly what they want to write and how things should happen, but somehow everything they write seem to be crap and thus they're "stuck" and "can't write". I'm not personally a huge believer of writer's block - there are certainly times when you know you want to write something but somehow it comes out without passion. Truth is, I think you just probably need a break in that case. I never think in terms of "Shit I have writer's block!" I think in terms of, "All right, I'm just not in the mood. So I'll go read something instead." Sooner or later, the writing always comes back. But I don't sit around thinking to myself, literally telling myself, "Argh I can't write! And here's why, I've got writer's block!" I tell myself: "Okay, you're not writing now, that's cool. Take a break and really enjoy it. Try to write something every so often and if it goes nowhere, that's fine. Enjoy what you've written, whether good or bad, and then go back and keep enjoying that break."
I think the fact that I don't panic over writer's block probably helps and explains why I don't really have writer's block. If you tell yourself you can't write, and then even justify it with something like "writer's block", sooner or later it'll just become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
These two posts sum it up pretty perfectly, the way I see it.
If I say 'just write' I mean stop worrying over every aspect of the act of writing and actually do it.
Of course if you need to stop to solve a particular story problem, that's fine. In fact it's good to stop writing when that happens, and allow your subconscious a little while to work away. Either work on another part of your story, another story, or simply stop writing and start thinking. It's all part of the writing process. But you're IN process at that point, not just waiting to start.
Only when you have actually written something to completion can you truly understand the process.
Most famous authors of bygone years didn't 'study' to be creative writers. They just wrote, and they wrote with passion. They learned as they wrote, but they learned from themselves. They learned by doing. There is no substitute, in my opinion.
Sorry, that should have been 7 sentences, not words. I have no idea which book/work was being referred to, but all the articles I've read agreed that he was a slow and meticulous writer. This would translate to mean that 'Just Writing' for him probably meant something different that it does to me.
"Just write" addresses at least two main ideas for me:
Communicating a problem helps me think through it, even if "communicating" it just means writing my thoughts down without expecting anyone else to read what I write. Often (probably most of the time), when I start typing a question in order to ask for help, I find the solution on my own simply because writing about it forced me to think about it differently.
No one but me will ever read my first draft. Therefore, I turn off my internal quality control when I write it. In fact, there is no such thing as "quality" in a first draft. Its purpose is to get my thoughts out of my head and into a form that does not disappear when I start thinking about something else. Going from a draft written to myself to a draft written to other people is easier than going from pure thoughts to a draft written to other people.
Separate names with a comma.