Wednesday, March 27, 2013

On Filtering (Or Not)

Sometimes I think I might have a problem with my tongue.

You see, it occasionally happens that I will, ahem, fly off the handle and say whatever comes into my brain when I've been angered. As you can imagine, this is not the best conversational strategy to employ. I need a filter, and badly, or else I may find myself losing friends along the way.

However. There are times when a lack of verbal discretion comes in handy. Most of them involve first drafts.

I tend to do the opposite of letting lose when writing first drafts. Instead of allowing words to pour onto the paper, I end up censoring myself. This is a direct result of my perfectionism complex. I want my story or poem--EVEN the first draft--to be as perfect as possible. (The truth is, first drafts never are, and that's why I end up having trouble in workshops.) 

Instead of searching for a way to streamline the first draft, I want to ingrain in myself a much better habit: spewing words until I've said everything that might be useful, and THEN going back to cut things out. Editing, for me, is much easier than writing in the first place, so this approach will likely suit me well. 

After all, some of the best warm-up writing exercises I've experienced have been the ones where you write continuously for three or five minutes, not stopping your hand for anything short of flames threatening to engulf you. I suspect we all need to lose ourselves in the writing like that a little more often. Do you agree?


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