Improvising writing


July 18th, 2010

I’ve never been afraid of writing. It’s my preferred form of expression. And, mostly, I enjoy it. I do think I’m afraid of committed writing though. You know, the sort of writing that ends up being something: a book, a play, a script, a thesis.

So I’m always interested in ways to trick myself into more committed writing.

I really liked Denzil Meyers’ Adventures in Micro-Fiction, an improvisational writing technique based on an improvisational form called the Harold.

And now Stella Duffy explains how she used Open Space to complete the 4th draft of a novel. She was stuck, and Lee Simpson of Improbable suggested, “it might not be so much a case of not knowing what to do, as not wanting to do it in the usual way.”

Stella explains:

“And that if I did actually know what to do, all I needed to do was come up with that agenda and then allow myself permission to work on it in OS – as and when I was drawn to/moved to, rather than ploughing through a list and grinding to a halt because it was so boring/difficult.

So, the next day, I took some time, called about two dozen sessions – for myself, alone – made up my timetable and each day for the next few weeks I worked on what I was drawn to work on, for as long as I wanted to stay there. The final edit was a pleasure, the book my most successful at the time.

It sounds incredibly obvious as I write it now, but at the time it felt like a huge liberation, trying a new process, one I had worked successfully for other forms, and giving it a go with my ‘real’ work.

And a joy, of course, finding that OS had solo application!”

And Harrison Owen wades in with some thoughts of his own on writing in Open Space.

Having written a few books myself, in retrospect, I guess I did them all in Open Space. The one thing that became absolutely clear was that if I did not have the passion, nothing would work. Grinding it out was no help and best just to put the project on the shelf until it called me. However, once called, there was no stopping until it was over. I never knew at the beginning where the book was going, never had an outline — and truth to tell always felt that the book wrote me.  Sounds pretty much like the 4 Principles and the Law of Two Feet.

So my take aways from this little exploration: follow your passion, don’t plan 🙂 and wait for the book (or play or whatever) to write me. Now that’s something I can commit to!

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