Monday, January 20, 2014

Writing Wild

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I like to keep writing and editing separate these days. Most of the icky proof reading and copy editing can be done by the word processor later. Also, I love to use Grammar Check by Grammarly before I have to present my manuscript to a crowd of Ivy league literary agents because I would rather be judged by copy and paste than pasty people. Also, I can copy and paste unlike writers of previous generations. This explains a lot, when you think about it.

Writing is such a romantic profession. Just picture all the glamor for a moment: a crystal glass with a finger of whiskey, dirty socks on the floor, and a big old typewriter. A lot of people attribute alcoholism in writers like Dorothy Parker, Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner to artistic temperament or a depressive personality. My theory? The typewriters drove them to drink.

Consider this for a moment. Granted, an alcoholic will blame anyone for their drinking, and possibly anything including a typewriter. Still, composing a manuscript on a typewriter didn't afford these writers the freedom and frivolity those of us in the world of word processing can enjoy. Programs come with built-in autocorrect for spelling and grammar, so if you're trying to write the great American novel and are having one of those days when you can't spell "control" your trusty word processor will prevent the public from ever knowing you're a bad speller.

When it comes to rewriting, paragraphs can be deleted, moved, and otherwise reshuffled with a few clicks. Character names can be changed with Search & Replace. Sure, revision is still a pain, but it's much easier than it used to be.

So, go ahead. When you are doing as Anne Lammot suggests in Bird By Bird and you're writing your "shitty first draft," don't worry about making tenses agree or what you want to call certain characters or anything like that. Just get your ideas down. The creative process works best without all those critical thoughts cramping your style. Be free. Be wild. Some writers find it helpful to turn off the screen or cover it while they write. I use Write or Die when I'm doing something like NaNoWriMo. I love it because it has a timed mode that disables the Delete key.

What strategies do you use to silence your editor as you write?