Mae West smoking a cigarette

The best way to behave is misbehave – Mae West

I’m a bad writer.

I don’t mean bad as in I don’t write well. Actually, quite the opposite. I’m amazingly talented as a writer. That’s not arrogance speaking (well, maybe a little) just plain fact. I love the way I write. I have a way of painting with words that amazes me sometimes. Still, I’m a bad writer.

I’m bad as in naughty.

When I took my first writing class I was told that writers all write the same way; they write in a flurry of typing and words and then edit later. This bit of wisdom gets repeated to me every time I take a writing class, read a book on writing or talk to other writers. Even Stephen King says it in his book, On Writing.

If Stephen King says it, it has to be true. Right?

I’ve tried it and, for me, it’s about as comfortable as wearing underwear made of fiberglass. The thing is, I keep trying to do it this way again and again and I keep getting the same results. A bunch of words on a page I can’t use. Yet I hear again and again that this how real writers create their work.

I was in a fiction writing course and the first 15 minutes of the class was devoted to what I call a delta wave writing spasm. The idea was to write the words that came into your head as they arrived. No editing, no second guessing, nothing. Just writing a constant stream of words. Problem is, my brain is like a squirrel on crack. I have a constant stream of a dozen thoughts going through my head at any given time. I usually focus on two or three. For example, right now I’m focused on why my water tastes funny, the Supernatural reruns I have playing on Netflix in the background and the soup I had for lunch. Part of my brain is devoted to what I’m writing right now. This works for me. In this chaos, my brain is able to focus on what I’m writing while keeping the rest of my brain occupied.

What works for me is to write the piece in my head then write it down. The only time I edit is a quick once-over to see if it makes sense. For blogs like this, I sometimes don’t even do that if I’m running out of time. See, I’m basically lazy and editing is damn hard work. That and I grew up in a house where it was pounded into me to be perfect the first time all the time. So, now, I do most of the initial work in my head.

My head is such a strange place to be. I do things I’m not supposed to do and I’m the kind of writer that isn’t supposed to be any good. It works for me and I doubt if it’ll ever pass the likes of Stephen King. That’s okay. He can do his thing and I’ll go dance a samba in my head.

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