Sunday, September 26, 2010

Tag, I'm It

I've been so verbose this month that my faithful followers are probably starting to hope I'll develop writer's block.  Unfortunately for them, this no longer happens since I learned to write first and edit later.  I picked up this technique and many others from Henriette Anne Klauser's Writing on Both Sides of the Brain, which earns my vote for Most Useful Book On Writing Ever.

Even before I encountered Henriette, though, I could usually kick-start the writing portion of my brain.  As an English major in college I frequently had to produce a paper or more every day, so writer's block was just not an option.  My favorite method, however, couldn't be used for class assignments because it integrated the work of two different authors; it was the literary equivalent of "tag, you're it."

My best friend in college was also an English major.  She had an unfettered imagination and a wicked sense of humor and we wrote several things (including an entire science fiction novel) together.  One of us would draft the first paragraph, page, or scene and pass the manuscript to the other.  We would write alternate passages until the entire first draft was done, and then we would edit.  This sounds as if it would produce a rather patchwork narrative, but after it was typed we ourselves often couldn't tell where the seams had originally been.

When we were working on something serious, each of us tried to make the hand-off to the other as smooth as possible, with no dropping of the compositional baton.  When we were writing for fun, though, we tended to end the sections with peculiar dead-end sentences like "I've been experimenting with making liquor from pole beans."  Trying to craft a cohesive narrative around these literary landmines was like taking a master class in free association.

(Hmm...that would make a great business card: Have Thesaurus, Will Write.  Quill pen salient.)

Now that I'm writing on my own I have to find other ways to prime the creativity pump, and I'm usually successful, but I miss the fun I had trying to stump my friend with a hopeless cliffhanger, or waiting to see what horrible dilemma she'd left me with in our latest epic.  Ah, well, I'll just have to tell myself that writing a longer work now is exactly the same, except I'm always "it."

“I love talking about nothing. It is the only thing I know anything about.” Oscar Wilde

No comments:

Post a Comment