The first challenge for any writer is to generate ideas and every writing tutor encourages the practice of noting these down as and when they occur, to provide a stockpile for days when inspiration is in short supply.
Sure enough, I have notebooks and folders and loose sheets of paper full of snatches of conversation and descriptions, settings and plot ideas. And sometimes I do, indeed, dip into them.
But what of all those nuggets that I'll never turn into stories or incorporate in a novel? As I hate things to be incomplete, these niggle away at me and create a kind of mental mess. This mess has, in fact, become so overwhelming that I now only add to the physical pile if the idea seems an absolute gem, which I'm sure I'll have time to develop.
|Image courtesy of Nutdanai |
We're led to believe writers have to be messy to be truly creative - which was what provoked my friend's question in the first place. Messiness is indicative of a mind full of ideas, a mind that is uninhibited and open to anything. Too much mess, though, and you're in trouble: whether it's because you can't focus, or you've simply lost that vital piece of research.
When it comes to the actual writing, I'm slow, oh, so slow. I need to structure a story in my head before I put finger to keyboard. I have to do all my research and think about it, and then think about it some more.
This may be a result of my methodical, perfectionist way of thinking; that desire not to miss anything, or get anything wrong. However, I'm not the only one who plans like this. I've heard countless published authors speak: some profess to be planners, others not. Most are, at one time or another, subject to procrastination, which sometimes disguises itself as planning.
Perfectionism certainly has pros and cons when it comes to editing. That determination to get things right carries me through numerous re-drafts, where others might give up before a piece is ready for submission.
|Image courtesy of bplanet/|
Much of my experience is possibly, therefore, just part and parcel of the writer's lot, rather than a result of my OCD.
Sometimes, though, I think I'd be better suited, as a perfectionist, to an activity with more objective measures of completion and success. Like archery, for example. I suppose it's not too late to try...anyone got a bow and arrow?
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