Wednesday, June 8, 2011
[Writing on Command]
If someone ever looked at me, handed me a piece of paper, a pen, and a stopwatch with the command, “Okay, write!” I would look at them like they were crazy. I’d stare at them for a second or two before I would notice that the clock is ticking down and holy crap, I only have fifteen minutes to write something.
I’d start to write, probably just a random drabble about a random character, and it probably wouldn’t be any good. But I would start to write. Even if I wouldn’t like doing it.
Writing on command is not one of my favorite things. Sometimes, how much I like or dislike it depends on my mood, but the thought of it gives me nerves. I was watching a video of the Kenyon Young Writers Workshop
click the link, people. the YWP is awesome, which I’m attending in late July, and the whole video was just people writing — spontaneously writing.
It scared and excited me.
Most of what I write is not spontaneous, but it isn’t planned, either. Take this blog post: when I sat down five minutes ago, I knew basically what I was going to write it on. I was planning on writing it on how we, as writers, have to be able to write spontaneously, on command, no matter how we like it.
Now I’m writing about what I was planning on writing about, which I did not plan.
Most of the pieces I write are not strictly outlined. They’re sketched out in my head, and I tend to go with whatever I feel like in the moment. This results in some things that are great, and some things that are not so great.
Earlier today I wrote a three page essay on why Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon. There are plenty of reasons why he crossed the Rubicon, and I love history, so it should have been an easy essay to write, right? I’ve had the essay topic since last Thursday, and I hadn’t written it until earlier this afternoon, because it was hard. Because I couldn’t make myself do it.
Since it’s due tomorrow, I couldn’t procrastinate any more — I wrote it on command.
I’m not sure if I like it very much yet, but it’s written, and that’s a start. I’ll have time to edit it later.
Writers are a weird sort of people, and our “job” is ever weirder: to do it well, we have to plan to be spontaneous, and then command ourselves to be spontaneous when the time for spontaneity arrives.
It confuses my little spontaneous writer head.