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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Write Before You Speak!

How many great ideas have you had that never get written? Like a first impression, inspiration really only gets one chance. That’s why I’m a firm believer in selfishly hoarding and protecting all great ideas! I never share them, no matter how excited I am when they pop into my head.

I have found over the years that if I talk about an idea before I write it, it requires tremendous labor to put it on the page. And then, once written, I’m stunned by its crappy appearance. It’s dry, dull, dead. It’s stilted, stale. And there is no return, not way to go back and redo it. No amount of scratching, waiting, editing, or rewriting will ever bring back the charm and magic of that initial great idea.

When editing another writer’s work, I do so with questions. “What do you mean here?” “What does this feel like?” “What is the character thinking now?” “Why…?” Inevitably the author wants to tell me all about it, right then and there as soon as they see my questions. I understand this desire. It’s only natural. We writers spend so much time in isolation that it’s really hard to resist the energy that flows between two passionate souls. And when it comes to our writing, yeah, our souls are unleashed in a playground of passions.

But hold back! Grab the passion and run to your favorite hide-out where you can break free – totally free – like belting out your favorite rock songs in the shower. Run! Bunker down! And Write!

These are not rhetorical questions, however. I really do want the author to answer them. In fact, I hope that the questions inspire elaborate answers that then trigger more questions! Play with the ideas; play with the words; play to your heart’s content, but for now, play alone!

Whatever you do, don’t answer any questions about your work with words that speak through your voice! Use instead the silent words inside your head, the words that can only come alive on the blank page. Trust me, these words are much better than the words that stumble out of your mouth.

If you want to be a writer, write first and speak last (or, in some cases, don’t speak at all). If you want to be a writer, shut up, sit down, and WRITE!

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