On Writing, Morning and Noon and Night

I wish I could draw.

I can't. Oh, I'm sure that I could, if only I would pick up a pencil, put it to paper, and practice day after day after day. Except that I don't think that, even with practice, that I would be able to etch out something that looked like anything. I can't draw a person that looks like a person. I can't draw a map that looks like a map. My spatial sense is actually quite good, but I can't express it.

No, my creative urges are all expressed through words.

I write for work. I write for publication. I also write for myself. And I have vastly different ways of writing for all three.

When I write for work, I strive for functional. I don't look for turns of phrase or sneak in subtextual snark. Usually, I don't have the time for creativity; I often produce 5,000 words a day or more. I approach my writing for work as an exercise in journalism. I try to get down the Who and the What and the Why. I keep a facsimile of the Kansas City Star's style guide from the early 20th-century, when Ernest Hemingway was a cub reporter, taped up in my cubicle as a kind of inspirational totem.

When I write for myself, I strive for feeling. I call upon the deep recesses of the psyche, the things that I keep locked away because they're too dark or too painful to be reckoned with or revealed. When I tap those deep reserves, however, there's a power that takes even my breath away.

When I write for publication, even when I write for the blog, I fall somewhere in between. I write a little more playfully than I might at work. I also try to write with more meaning. When I write for publication, I want it to connect with the reader. I want the reader to feel, and sometimes I have to dive down into those deep currents and see what treasures I can find there.

I keep a file of ideas. Ideas for stories. Ideas for books. Ideas of no importance whatsoever. Just ideas. Some ideas have been in the file for a long time, waiting for the day I feel the idea and it's ready to grow; either it's germinated, or it's cross-polinated with something else. Ideas are seeds. Writing brings the idea to flower, and it creates a garden.

I feel the most creative in the morning, though in all honesty I do most of my writing in the afternoon and evening. The morning brings the ideas, the afternoon brings the energy, the evening brings the discipline. If only I could bring all three together…

I may not be able to draw with pen and paper, but I can write with pen and paper. Indeed, I love to write with a pen. There is something indescribable about working with a pen. The slowness of handwriting, the subtleties of the muscle movements — these force me to engage with words differently than I do with a keyboard. Typing, the words need only be in the neighborhood, because it is so easy to change them. Handwriting, though, the words need to be right because, while I can scratching them out, changes take time and break the stream of thought. When it's important, or if I need a start or a boost over a mental speedbump, I write by hand.

I do not have the best writing process in the world, but it is a process that works for me.
Powered by Plinky

Published by Allyn

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *