Write Now! Revise Later!
Posted on June 11, 2013
Writing prompts are an excellent way of keeping the writing juices flowing. It is supposed to be an old writer’s adage that you should write every day. Some advise you to write in the early morning, even before the day has begun, with your eyes still closed just penning down what bubbles up from your subconscious. Others think it’s best to allocate a dedicated time frame to writing and force yourself to scribble down anything, even if it’s a shopping list, as long as you keep your hand moving.
Both methods and numerous others have their merits, but require at least some form of self-discipline, a trait that we writers seem to lack every now and again, be it because we lure ourselves into the traps of social media, or because we’re frustrated about a work in progress that refuses to take shape, or simply because we think that we’re no good anyway.
Joining a writing group — in real life or online — could nudge you in the right direction. Within a writing group you have no excuse. You write, because that’s what it’s all about. NaNoWriMo is another good way to get going, spurred on by the challenge of churning out a set word count a day.
For me, the most important condition to keep writing, alone, in a writing group or during NaNoWriMo is a silenced inner critic. And I promise you, my inner critic won’t shut up just because he’s asked politely. Write Now, Revise Later! That’s what I beat myself up with, that’s what I write on notes that I stick all over the place.
Just to show my inner critic that I’m stronger than he is, I’ll publish a first draft written with a ‘first line’ writing prompt.
The only way John could pass the exam was by cheating. He decided not. He would do it as he had planned. He would sit and work and do his best and if he failed, he would just do it again and again and again until he passed. He would not, and he repeated that, he would not cheat. Or work his teacher, get her to mellow up on him and grade him less strict than she’d grade the others. It would be an easy job to win her over. No sweat. He would just talk to her, lower his voice a little more, put his hand on the small of her back, make her feel like she mattered to him, like he couldn’t do without her. She’d cave in, he knew she would.
But he wouldn’t do it. Not this time. It would be too easy. He was done with easy. He wanted to do things the hard way. He wanted to feel pain surging through his brain when he searched for the right answers. Answers that wouldn’t come as unchallenging as putting a hand on the small of another person’s back. He wanted to feel sweat pricking his forehead, burn his armpits. He longed for his T-shirt to stick to his back. No, he would not cheat this time.
He entered the classroom and smiled at his teacher as he brushed past her. She returned the smile, shy and insecure, her eyes begging.
Tell me: what do you do to keep writing?