All writers have a process that allows them to create. However, the art of "Writing" is often mistaken for that "Process." Hopefully this blog explains the difference, and inspires people to develop their crafts, become writers, or just keep on writing.

Friday, January 5, 2024

Binge Writing

Before we get down to the business of writing - Happy New Year (for those who follow the Gregorian calendar). I started off the New Year by actually finishing the project of my utility room I referred to in my post, Writing and the Rabbit Hole. I also wrapped up a book I was reading, started my beta-reading for a couple of manuscripts, visited some friends, and fashioned some PVC piping into a very serviceable drainage system. Oh - and I did some writing. Amidst all the chaos, clutter, and excitement of New Year's, I got in some writing.

Because I had to.

If there's one thing writing has taught me, it is that good habits take a long time to develop and about one holiday season to break. Despite our commitment to a process, if we give ourselves too much time away from them, they get broken faster than a New Year's resolution. So while I did all my holiday things and stuff, and ventured into a few new projects that will unquestionably overwhelm me, I cut out some time for writing. However, to account for my busy schedule, I decided to do the binge-writing method.

The binge-writing process is exactly what it sounds like. You give yourself a fixed amount of time - try 15 minutes to get a real feel for it - and just start writing something. Anything. Let the first idea that falls out of your brain land on the page then run with it. Don't try to be crafty if that prevents you from writing; just put down anything. If your thought is about a cat by your desk playing with a toy, go with that and just see where your brain runs. If an idea pops up that this time the toy starts fighting back, then go with that impulse. Is it the best one you can think of - probably not, but it's the first one, so run with the idea. Can the cat talk? Now it can - do some cat dialogue. Maybe the toy can as well. Write it down. Make it dark or funny or insightful or whatever you want it to be.

The important part of this entire exercise is to not labor yourself with the thinking part of the process and work on the creating part of the process. In some ways it's very much a life lesson. We can make a lot of plans and map things out and that works up to a point, then invariably things go off the rails and we have to improvise. Or, to put it in the words of the eminently quotable boxer, Mike Tyson, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” At that point, we need to be quick on our feet or Evander Holyfield will knock us out. Binge writing exercises those reactionary muscles, that part of us that goes into action right after our plans fall apart. Now, if you go through your writing life and everything goes just as you planned it, well, good for you and I am more than a little jealous. However, most of us writers will find ourselves suddenly writing ourselves out of jams. That's when those writing muscles come in handy.

Feel free to binge now and then. Jump into the deep end of the writer's pool and struggle to stay afloat. In this case, you will never drown, and who knows - you might just learn something about your writing process.

(And for those who will IM me, I do know that Tyson's quote was based on the military adage, “no plan survives first contact with the enemy.” However, if I passed up a chance to use a Mike Tyson quote and he found out, I might really get punched in the face.)         

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