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, February 2, 2024

The Boom, the Bust, and the Binge

I write about this topic periodically, mostly because I also experience it in my life quite often and find it valid. It's about binge writing, and the benefits and the downside of going on hours-long sessions of writing. Indeed, it can be a lot of fun to be so creative for such an extended period of time, but it may come at a price, so consider yourself warned.

Incidentally, I use the word "binge" for a specific reason. You see, the word wasn't even very popular before the 1980s, and then it became associated with drinking and kind of caught on. As one might've guessed, however, when the era of streaming really caught on, the word became a part of everyday life. There's actually a strong correlation between the frequency of the words "binge" and "Netflix" over the past twenty years (in case anyone's interested). And I think of them in similar fashion.

Sometimes, when we get a little inspiration, we start writing a piece that moves us. If we like what we are creating, we can spend an entire afternoon and/or evening flooding the pages with this amazing story that just caught hold of a special part of our mind. These periods of binge-writing are exciting, engaging, and come with all the thrills of watching an entire season of Breaking Bad in one night (except for season two, which was a little weak). We have this sudden boom of creativity where we put together masterful ideas and churn out amazing sentences with little to no effort. But then what happens? The bust part of the cycle hits, and we find ourselves mentally fatigued. Exhausted. We did all this creating, and we just wore ourselves out. Worse yet, we might read what we wrote and get those first-draft blues because it's not as perfect as it felt when we wrote it. That's when the boom really goes bust. This can ruin all the inspiration we had and all the excitement we felt when we were drunk on endorphins.

It's often difficult to tell the difference between inspired writing and standard writing after we've stepped away for a moment. That first draft you wrote all in one night might've felt awesome, but the sobering light of the next morning reveals that there's a lot of passive voice, a bunch of telling rather than showing, and all kind of basic mistakes. So disappointing, but this isn't a bad thing. When we are on a writing binge, it doesn't mean we won't make the same first-draft mistakes again. We might even do some things we would've caught if we weren't so excited to create. However, the part to remember is that it's not the writing that should excite us when we go on a binge. It's the fact that we are creating a broader story and establishing a framework for something that really moves us. Let the grammar Nazis pick on us later, and nobody cares about first-draft mistakes. Find the thing within that writing that really triggered the creativity. Hint: It wasn't just a frenzy of putting one word after another. There's something very valuable there.

Also, if you find yourself in a mad frenzy of binge writing, try to come up for air periodically. Step away from the words for a few minutes, walk around the room, the house or the block even, and catch your breath. It will put a little bit of clarity back into your head, hopefully without breaking the momentum you built up from the excitement of creating. Then get back to writing with a little more energy. 

And please let me know how it went.    

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