Tag: writing (page 1 of 5)

Momentum over details

I subscribed to Laura Olin’s newsletter recently, and the first issue I received mentioned how the late Dave Graeber “liked to… write propped up in the bathtub or lying on the floor; that way, it didn’t feel like work”.

She also links to another newsletter issue by Kate McKean, which I quote below, about just getting on with things, keeping the momentum going, and not getting stuck with details. It reminds me of my collaborations this week (in a good way!)

Angular momentum

Which leads me to my newest revelation: just write it down now! You can fix it later! Truly and honestly, you can fix it later. Do you know how many TKs are in my book right now? (TK is copyediting shorthand for I’ll fill it in later) Instead of trying figure out what day of the week it is in my book, it literally says “TK weekday.” I was in the middle of a scene when I realized one of the characters in it couldn’t physically be there at that time, so I deleted his name and wrote “TK some other guy” and kept going! I liked the scene! I’ll figure out that TK later! Or I will cut it! The words exist now, which means they can be edited, refined, deleted, kept. You’re going to edit your book five thousand times; you won’t notice one more. And for those of you who worry that’s going to add time to an already long and arduous process, well, I say that if it gets you to The End faster, even if you have to go back to all those TK’s, you’re that much better off.

Source: How to Like What You Write | Kate McKean

Image: CC BY-NC-ND Alan Bloom

Aimless wandering in search of the unknown catalyst

It might not be too much of a stretch to describe Edward Snowden as a hero of mine. I’m not sure what he’s still doing in Russia, but the moral conviction it took to do what he did is staggering.

He writes in exile through a newsletter which is well worth subscribing to. In his most recent missive, he talks about lacking what he calls “origination energy”. On a much smaller level and more insignificant level, I lack this too — especially at this time of year.

So as the young people say, I feel seen.

Edward Snowden poster

For a long time now, I’ve wanted to write to you, but found myself unable. Not from illness—although that came and went—but because I refuse to put something in your inbox that I feel isn’t worth your time.

The endless stream of events that the world provides to remark upon has the tendency to take on an almost physical weight, and robs me of what I can only describe as origination energy: the creative spark that empowers us not simply to do something, but to do something new. Without it, even the best of what I can produce feels derivative and workmanlike—good enough for government, perhaps, but not good enough for you.

I suspect you may know a similar struggle—you can tell me how you fight it below, if you like—but my only means for overcoming it is an aimless wandering in search of the unknown catalyst that might help me to refill my emptied well. Where once I might have had a good chance of walking away inspired by the empathy I felt while watching a sad, sad film, achieving such inspiration feels harder now, somehow. I have to search farther, and wander longer, across centuries of painting and music until at last, when passing by a dumpster, yesterday’s internet comment might suddenly pop into my head and blossom there, as if a poem. The thing—the artifact itself—doesn’t matter, so much as what it does for me—it enlivens me.

This, to me, is art.

Source: Cultural Revolutions | Edward Snowden

Image CC BY-NC-ND: Antonio Marín Segovia

Blissed, Blessed, Pissed, and Dissed

Austin Kleon summarises Bill O’Hanlon’s idea around there being ‘four energies’ that writers can dig into. They may need translating for a British audience (‘pissed’ means something different over here…) but I like it as an organising idea.

Related: Buster Benson’s ‘Seven Modes (for seven heads)’ from his seminal post Live like a hydra.

The energies are split between “what you love and what upsets you”:

  • “Blissed” energy comes from what you’re on fire for and can’t stop doing.
  • “Blessed” means you’ve been gifted something that you feel compelled to share.
  • “Pissed” means you’re pissed off or angry about something.
  • “Dissed” means you feel “dissatisfied or disrespected.”

O’Hanlon goes on to say many of his early books were “written from a combination of pissed and blissed.”

Source: The Four Energies | Austin Kleon