Day One of NaNoWriMo: Compose first, worry later...

an excerpt from The Courage to Write by Ralph Keyes:

Before he even reviewed notes for an article, Calvin Trillin wrote a predraft - what he called "vomit-out" - of anything that came to mind. Sometimes Trillin wouldn't even look at the vomit-out, and he was terrified by the thought that anyone else might see it. Trillin found this document so embarrassing that he tore it up as soon as possible. Its composition was less a search for usable material than simply a way to kick-start his literary engine.

Like Trillin, working writers typically give themselves a lot of latitude in generating a first draft. Frank O'Connor said he composed short stories by writing "any sort of rubbish" until an outline began to emerge. Using a similar tactic, Christopher Isherwood tried to trick a good topic into rising from his unconscious by irritating it, "deliberately writing nonsense until it intervenes, as it were, saying, 'All right, you idiot, let me fix this.'" Raymond Chandler took this tactic one step farther. To start a new novel, Chandler first babbled into a tape recorder, then had a secretary transcribe his babbling for him to use as a rough draft.

Gail Godwin suggested approaching a difficult piece of writing as if it were a letter, telling your "correspondent" what you intended to write that day. That's how Isabel Allende wrote novels: composing them as letters to her mother. Tom Wolfe used a similar tactic to do a spectacular end run on crippling writer's block early in his career. Wolfe had gone to Los Angeles to report for Esquire's managing editor. The next day his editor called Wolfe to say that they were going to publish his memo untouched. It ran as "The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine Flake Streamline Baby." The manic voice that Wolfe discovered this way has since reappeared in his many epoch-defining articles and books. With the proceeds from these books, Wolfe developed a taste for hand-tailored suits. That had two distinct benefits. For one thing, the fittings such suits required provided a welcome respite from writing. At the time, Wolfe had to write in order to pay for the suits.


So...Maitresse's question to you is...is there anything you want that your writing check in the mail would cover nicely? Compose first. Worry later.

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