One of my biggest problems with writing has always been figuring out the best process and procedure to get myself in “the writing mood.” I had an instructor in MFA school who suggested a finger’s worth of whiskey, I read Writing Down the Bones, I’ve gone through various word processing apps; long story short, I’ve never found any magic way to sit down and get writing. Except carefully designed writing sessions. And carefully designed editing sessions. Scheduled activities, not just getting the writing bug and doing so.
It started in undergrad with my own writing but quickly became part of how I’d work on big assignments. I didn’t really do assignments in high school. Not enough of them anyway. It’s about figuring out how the segments are going to be combined, figuring out how much to worry about writing. Chronologically makes sense for prose and non-research non-fiction, but with researched non-fiction, sometimes writing chronologically doesn’t make the most sense. I’m even trying it for non-research non-fiction now, which is a somewhat new thing for me. Defining presentation first hasn’t helped over the years, so now it’s structured content.
I don’t have the free time to play with writing. I did in MFA school and I did play with it. I took full advantage of the time for writing in that program and it was helpful. It did get me thinking a lot about how to approach writing and how I needed to approach it. How much of my mind was reliable for notes and how much of it should be written down. Unlike research non-fiction in undergrad, which required everything to at least be written down once.
For me, changing the scheduled session is worse than anything else. The scheduled session isn’t just the time being set aside, it’s all the other details, all the things put in place for it. Once those things get messed up, it changes the relationship with the scheduled writing session. Obviously it’d be better not to need those details or that scheduling in the first place, but I’m thirty-eight. I’ve given up on having “paid” (or “free,” really) time to write and think ever again.
If I ever had to design a class on it, I think it’d be, “Shots of Whiskey, or: Facilitating Creatively Generative Thought.” Because big words and booze jokes. My thing.