before i write

What if your current work-in-process died part way through? And you had only seven chances to rewrite it. What direction would your story go?

I’m sure there would be stages. Shock. Denial. Grief. Anger. Joy. Freedom.

But what if on the fourth day, you decided what the heck? And you lost all your inhibitions and fears.

Not all your choices might be smart but some of them might be brilliant.

What if you approached your writing, your story, your characters like that – every day? Every time you sat down at the keyboard. No inhibitions. You let your mind go. Be bold. Be brave. 

What if you wrote your story and didn’t think about trends and rules? Especially the rules. (Okay, first learn the rules and then you can break them.)

What if you let your story out of the box? And didn’t press the delete key because you thought something was too stupid, too risky, too silly, too sexy.

What if you didn’t think about the books you love or hate? What if you stopped trying to emulate your favorite author?  What if you stopped trying to nail down exactly what your future readers might like or not like? 

What if you didn’t care about peer pressure or what other writers or people might think?

I wonder. What if?


26 Responses to before i write

  1. Jennifer Shirk June 2, 2010 at 10:58 am #

    Yeah, that’s a lot to wipe from your mind. 🙂 I try to do it, but it’s hard.

  2. anne gallagher June 2, 2010 at 11:25 am #

    Natalie Goldberg wrote “Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life” Bantam 1990. This book answers all the questions you just asked. It’s fantastic. It’s the only way to write.

  3. Laura June 2, 2010 at 12:23 pm #

    Yes. It is the only way to write. And I think it’s something one can learn. I’m trying to anyway. Writing with abandon.

  4. Heather Kelly June 2, 2010 at 12:37 pm #

    Woo-hoo, Laura! Go big or go home! I am with you! Thanks for this today!

  5. Paul June 2, 2010 at 12:40 pm #

    I think you’ve created a great recipe for writing first drafts and for breathing new life into a story that has been revised and revised and revised. This will be helpful for me in my current WIP because just yesterday I felt stuck. Thanks!

  6. Laura June 2, 2010 at 1:00 pm #

    write big – Heather and Paul!

    And revision is another story…

  7. Andrea Vlahakis June 2, 2010 at 1:57 pm #

    This is wonderful! Now I just wish I could do this—lol. I start well, but haven’t quite made it yet, completely. I will be brave, I will be brave, I will…

  8. Laura Marcella June 2, 2010 at 2:38 pm #

    Wow, that is a lot to forget. But your message is powerful! We could probably write so much more than we ever thought we could if we’d just let go of those elements that we have no control over. Thanks for the reminder!

  9. Stina Lindenblatt June 2, 2010 at 2:59 pm #

    That’s pretty much what I do. And then I turn it all back on for editing/revision. 😉

  10. Laura June 2, 2010 at 3:23 pm #

    Andrea – You can do it!

    Laura – It is a lot to forget. I think we can do it with practice.

    Stina – Glad you’ve got it mastered! And yes. With revision we need to tune into some of those things.

  11. Nelsa June 2, 2010 at 4:32 pm #

    Laura: I really, really love this. I may just go back to that stalled WIP and try to turn off my internal worry editor that says the story isn’t ‘this’ enough or ‘that’ enough. Just write the whole thing through and see what I’ve got at the end of it.

    Or I may just start a new project with those questions firmly in place. Oh, boy. You’ve given me lots to think about…

  12. Patti Nielson June 2, 2010 at 5:14 pm #

    Great post. For my last book I really tried to turn off the editor in me and just kept writing. In fact I changed one character from a brother to a boyfriend and now I might change it back, but will deal with it in the revisions.

  13. The Alliterative Allomorph June 2, 2010 at 5:40 pm #

    Oh yes! Praise the Laura! That’s how we gotta write and then we will write what’s right. 🙂 Great post!

  14. Marcia June 2, 2010 at 5:57 pm #

    This is excellent. I kind of view it as not allowing anyone to look over your shoulder as you write. And just as you shut off your inner editor as much as you can, don’t think about what your critique group will say!

  15. Karen Strong June 2, 2010 at 9:01 pm #

    Great post Laura! I’m printing this out. 🙂

  16. Sherrie Petersen June 2, 2010 at 11:59 pm #

    I love this idea. It’s just allowing yourself to play around with the “What ifs” — which I why I started writing in the first place 🙂

    Great post!

  17. Laura June 3, 2010 at 12:24 am #

    Thanks everyone! Let’s write bolder, braver, and bigger!

  18. Catherine A. Winn June 3, 2010 at 1:24 am #

    Wonderful post! Wish I could be that carefree and brave, but there are so many “rules” out there bombarding us. It’s hard not to think about them.

  19. Anna June 3, 2010 at 2:08 am #

    I think you’d wind up writing one heck of a book! Hm, it might be time to put a “be brave” note on my monitor.

  20. Kristen Torres-Toro June 3, 2010 at 3:30 am #

    I want to write like that… like the post you had a few months ago where you edited it down to just the word “write”. That was so powerful I still remember it.

  21. Creepy Query Girl June 3, 2010 at 12:18 pm #

    I guess I’m pretty lucky. While thinking this I just kept thinkgin ‘ugh…this IS how I write.’ lol. I didn’t start writing to get published. I write the stories that ‘I’ want to read, live, breath. If someone else enjoys them, great! But I always write first and foremost for myself.

  22. Ansha Kotyk June 3, 2010 at 12:36 pm #

    Great post! Whenever I get stressed out and wound up in knots about writing I try to think about everything you’ve just said.

  23. Jody Hedlund June 3, 2010 at 1:09 pm #

    I think this a wonderful perspective to have during the first draft! I try to keep in the back of my mind a few “new” techniques that I want to implement. I want to grow in skill with each book I write, so I want to consciously practice new things. But I also don’t want to let worries inhibit my stories!

  24. PJ Hoover June 3, 2010 at 5:39 pm #

    I think you’d have a great book! I love falling into the first draft stage. I let the words flow and it feels so good!

  25. dirtywhitecandy June 6, 2010 at 12:13 pm #

    I’m a little late to this debate but have to add my voice and say THIS IS THE ONLY WAY TO WRITE! We can’t be inhibited if we want to write deeply and truthfully. There is definitely a time for editing and considering how the audience will respond, but at some stage you must dig as far as possible into what a story might be. And so what if you cut some later? Your first draft is a secret between you and your computer. And like all secrets, it creates a profound understanding. Nice post.

  26. Claire King June 7, 2010 at 8:38 am #

    Great may to think about a first draft!

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