Fiction: The What, How & Why of It #3

Show up for work. Writing is work. It needs to be practiced and practiced and practiced {& practiced & practiced & practiced}.

Steele breaks writing into two different categories: hard time and soft time. Sounds a bit like doing a stint in prison, but if you enjoy writing then obviously it is time well spent. Hard time is actually planting your ass in the chair and producing content. It’s where the words are written. The less aknowledged but equally important, soft time, is done at all other times. When you are thinking about your work you’re engrossed in your very own soft time sesh {session but cooler}. Think brainstorming. When you’re considering where you want your piece to go, or not go, you are tossing around ideas and contemplating all of the details–that is soft time.

Personally, soft time is a highly enjoyable portion of the writing process. You don’t need to sit in your office, coffee shop, or at your kitchen table staring at the blinking cursor on your computer screen. Get out! Move around! Explore! Keeping your story in the back of your mind, rather than focusing all of your attention on your problem, you let the inspiration come to you. Writing doesn’t suck, people. It is personal and fun and creative. It is anything you make it.

Steele also writes about two different types of writers: Free Spirits and Stern Editors.

Free Spirit

Free Spirits aren’t hard to imagine. They are completely engrossed when they want to be. They’ll write what they want, when they want, and they don’t feel the need to satisfy others by sticking to the rules. They are mad cool and super chill. They’ll throw you love deuces in excess. Stern Editors {as I hope you have guessed} are about concise, grammatically correct, logical writing. Delete those unnecessary words, rid yourself of those comma splices and don’t you dare use abbrevs because the Stern Editor will hunt you down and there is no telling what price you will pay when you piss off the Stern Editor.

Stern Editors

The point is both need to learn to work well with the other. If you write well you are able to embrace both within yourself. Early on throw around the peace and love and just go with the flow. Set the ground work, but don’t hold yourself back by worrying about anything too much. Free Spirits free write.

Your Turn:
Take this opening phrase: Sam wasn’t sure if it was a wonderful sign or a sign of disaster but Sam knew… Write down that fictional opener, then keep going. Free write, meaning write without stoping or even thinking too much, just scribble away however many things come out. You should write for at least five minutes but feel free to go as long as you like. No one will see this but you, and you have permission for this to be nothing but gibberish. Just feel what it’s like to write in a white heat. 

So, since I’m dedicated to my creative writing experiment, I will set my timer for 10 minutes. I’ll warn you now, I’m a horrible speller. When I free write I close my eyes {is that weird?} so as to not focus or get held back by the typos and misspellings. I let my hands flow over the keyboard and do not correct a single error. I absolutely guarantee it will be complete and utter gibberish. Here is what my free write looks like….

Sam wasn’t sure if it was a wonderful sign or a sign of disaster but Sam knew he felt liberated. He had just trhown his cellphone off of the brooklyn bridge. It was the last of his devices keeping in contact with the world. He was once again his own man. He didn’t belong to his corporate job that had made him miserable for the past 9 years. He’d quit. He had donated all his belongs to the Salvation army and broke his lease on his rent controlled penthouse. He had just thrown away his identity he had spent so many years working to define himself as. No, he knew this was wonderful. Sam let his only family member, his mother, know he was going away for quite some time. It was his last order of business before the cell phone toss. 
“Mom! you home?” He yelled as he walked into the front of his childhood brownstone. 
“I’m back here, Sam. Come join me.” His mother, only 18 years older than he, was cute as a button. The tiny little lady was in the back tending to her window sill overflowing with herbs. He worshiped her. She the woman he compared all women to and he was not embarrassed of this in the least. She had overcome so much in her life, he could not begin to imagine surviving himself. 
“Hey Mom, how are you today?” He asked her. “I’m doing just fine, Sweetie. What are you up to? What day is it? Why aren’t you at work?” 
“I took the day off, Mom. I wanted to drop this off to you. Remember, I told you I am going away for a while?” 
“Oh, yes yes. Is that today? Well, let me bring this inside, washup and we will get started.” 
The two walked inside to the kitchen where Sam opened his bag and pulled out a top of the line, fully-loaded MacBook Pro. The two spent an hour hovered over the “computer machine,” as his mother called it, trying to teach her how to work it. Sam got her to the point where she was able to turn it on and open the internet. She was thrilled because he had set up the “Faceplace” account as she had asked and found her old friend from high school who had told her join about a month before. 
“Well this is just fantastic!” His mother was in awe as she scrolled through the pictures of her highschool days she had been tagged in. 
“Ok mom. I better get going or I don’t think I’ll ever get moving.” He closed the laptop and stood up from the table. 
“Oh Sam I wish you would tell me where you are going. How will I know if you are ok?” 
“It will be fine. I’ll be fine. I told you I will call you in one month, so on the 10th, to let you know I am alive.” He assured her. “I have to go now though mom.” 
” Is this a work thing?” she asked. He ignored her and walked over to the junk drawer where he knew she stored her post-it notes. He wrote “Sam Calls Sept. 10th.” and stuck it to her fridge. He gave his mother a giant bear hug and a kiss on the forehead. I will see you later mom. 
“I just wish you’d stop being so secretive. Where are you going?” Truth was Sam didn’t know where he was going. He didn’t know how he was getting there. He had no clue. No answers. Only questions.
He saw the faint splash from down below as his cell hit the water. He took a deep breath, picked up his backpack and began walking.

So there you have it– my free write. Now as you can tell the Stern Editor would now have to awaken and fix all the mistakes. She would probably tackle my Free Spirit and land a nice right hook to the jaw, but that is ok. At least I just went with it. I leave you with a Steele quote

“Maybe writing fiction is akin to those personal challenges we call recreation…These Things are rewarding because they are not so easy. They awaken us by making us feel the vibrations of our inner potential, regardless of the outcome. Writing is one of the best possible personal challenges because the room for growth is as limitless as outer space and you’re never too young or to old to give it a go.”

Which type of writer do you consider yourself naturally?

Now you try it. Do your own five minute free write sesh. Feel free to share!

This post is part of my creative writing experiment that will get me writing more often and more creatively. All excerpts and “Your Turn” prompts are from the Gotham Writers’ Workshop Writing Fiction: The Practical Guide From New York’s Acclaimed Creative Writing School. As I write my way through this book, I welcome all constructive criticism, suggestions, advice and comments. 

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One thought on “Fiction: The What, How & Why of It #3

  1. Mom (Debbie) says:

    Woo Hoo, I think I’m gonna start a blog, this looks like fun

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