Friday, July 24, 2009
My Head is Full of Rocks!!!
You're probably thinking of something your mom used to say about being dumb as rocks. (Oh, you weren't, I wasn't either.) Anyways, that's not what I mean. Another thing I learned from reading my favorite writing book (at this point I probably don't have to name it, "Becoming a Writer" by Dorothea Brande; oops did I say it again??!) is that when you get a story idea you don't have to write it down right away. Let it bounce around in your head for a few days. It's amazing what happens. I was surprised when I first read this advice because I thought we were supposed to go write to a piece of paper and have one available at any given moment in case the muse should strike. But I've come up with my own analogy for what happens when we let the ideas stay in our head for a little while longer. Think about finding a really pretty rock. The rock is pretty already or you wouldn't have picked it up. You can have it fitted in a necklace as is and you would be happy, but you know that if you put it in a rock tumbler it would be soooo beautiful. So despite your impatience to show the rock off now, you start the process of letting the rock tumble. You add the chemicals and you start it turning. You don't think of it much for the next three days except to make sure that it is still turning, but you don't have to do anything else, you don't want to interrupt the process. At the end of the three days you take them out and rinse them off and see how much more beautiful they are, but they're not done yet. It's time to add the polishing. Now how does this relate you might ask, (or maybe not, it's probably quite obvious, but indulge me.) The rocks are our ideas for stories. Sometimes in our haste to get the story down we skip the all important step of tumbling and try to go straight to the polishing. When we first get an idea we let it run in our heads try to see where it is going, follow it and see where it takes, but then we usually start writing after that. But I have found that if I don't write it down and just check on the idea periodically over a set number of days, the idea becomes more well rounded. For some reason once I write the idea down it never morphs as much as it does if I let it tumble for awhile. Then after it's tumbled we take the idea out and write it down, then you will find the polishing stage (ie: editing) is a little easier. At least that's the way it works for me. The cool thing about writing is that we get to find our own process and then share it with others and they can use what works for them and discard what doesn't. So what is part of your process, or are you still trying to find what works for you?