Wednesday, September 14

At War with Words

Sometimes, nothing flows, nothing fits. You sit at your desk, stumped and aggravated, trying to recall a word that has left your brain or the perfect way to express a moment in your story. Nothing is coming and the only thing you seem able to express is your anguish. Somewhere in your head, there is this tiny version of you, having a tantrum and trying to squeeze out the answer, like jumping on a puzzle piece to make it fit.

Words: if you're a writer, they're kind of necessary. Some people might tell you to calm down. Words are you friends. Make peace with words. This is wrong. Not all words will be nice to you. They will not always come when you call. Some of them can be tedious and dull. They're also self-centered. Look, they're talking about themselves right now.

Too often, writers allow words to take them hostage. That isn't a crime, you might say, it sounds like a blessing. So it might be, if you are swept up and away by words, writing at a super speed. What you must never allow words to do is pin you down and leave you mulling things over...indefinitely.

No more sitting at desks, thinking about words. I bet one of your favourite words is "procrastinating." Don't even think about denying it. There's another word for you, "excuse."

It's time to go to war, with words as your allies and enemy. I'm talking of "word wars." Have you heard of them? It's where you race against the clock - and perhaps a fellow writer - to get as many words down on the page as you can. Just pick a time frame (10 minutes, 20, 30, an hour) and write, write, write. Don't stop until your time is up.

What does this accomplish? It keeps words from teasing you, bullying you, hiding away or bogging you down. Instead of worrying about perfection and answers, you just write and worry about that stuff later, so that at the end of it you have some words to polish and strangle at your leisure.

For the beginner, I suggest starting with shorter stints (10/15 minutes) and sparring with a friend, to keep up the...the word escapes me...enthusiasm! Race to see who can produce the most words in the allotted time. Don't worry about sifting through your brain, looking for the puzzle piece that fits. Just dump all the pieces out at once and have at it.

To help you get the best results in word wars, see Dr. Wicked's Write or DIE.

1 comment:

Myah said...

Word Wars are my friend. Word wars are my typing fingers' enemies.

But bah. Who really cares about the welfare of the world's typing fingers. War away!