“This is a horrible idea… But it has one powerful benefit.”
Yesterday, I engaged in a manner of writing which I am ashamed of.
You see, I have a story due for Far Worlds. In this case, a kind of alien space western tale. But try as I might, the ideas weren’t really flowing in. I had the beginning finished. And an idea for the ending. But the middle isn’t there.
Try as I might, staring at the screen and trying to whip up the synopsis was not working. So I did what I cannot advocate for anyone to do. I just started writing. No plans, no foresight. Just let the words hit the page and see what sticks.
This is a horrible idea.
When people write in this manner, it tends to result in a bunch of unmitigated, unstructured crap that is difficult to follow. My editors are going to give me the evil eye. At worst, it’s sloppy, it’s not well told. It makes plots convoluted and difficult. It risks the story and characters contradicting themselves.
But it has one powerful benefit.
When someone writes and lets it flow, they tap into all these crazy ideas they didn’t even know they had. I only put down another 600 words, but in that time, I came up with two ideas for alternative technologies, a fresh plot hook and some character development.
The brain is funny like that, as ideas come from the actual process of construction instead of the planning. This approach to creativity about guarantees that I’ll have to write a third draft at the very least.
At least with artists, they can sketch for 5, 10 minutes and it’s not wasted because an idea can come of it. They accept and embrace that if they want to use the sketch, they have to start over again to get it right.
Authors make the mistake of doing “sketch writing” and then thinking that the paragraphs written are good enough to go in. No, they got to be rewritten, the idea has to be evaluated, better developed and fit within the confines of the story.
But sometimes, “sketch writing” just seems to be the only way to generate ideas at all.