Last week I forced myself back to my novel after what seemed an interminable festive ‘break’ where I ate too much, drank too much and did too little – well, I did a lot, but not generally stuff providing the creative, productive, satisfying buzz that only writing can give. Before teaching and other commitments loomed into view, I determined I would do a minimum of 1000 words a day and get the next chapter done.
That shouldn’t be difficult – 1000 words a day is the magic number after which lots of writers give themselves permission to knock off for the day and become … well … human again.
And, yes, I did it and managed to complete the chapter, writing 5000 words over three days. But I only did so by closing my eyes and ears to my inner critic, that pesky creature who constantly asks:and for me turning off that voice is almost IMPOSSIBLE to do.
I find first drafts incredibly difficult. What I’m writing feels like rubbish – clunky, clichéd, full of telling, repetitive, over-written, under-written … the list is endless. To let these things go and simply write is painful – that’s why I don’t think I would like NaNoWriMo, where the challenge is to write 50,000 words in a month.
The problem is the left brain, the part of the brain that we use for so many tasks. In the modern world, it seems as if we’re conditioned to let this side of the brain dominate at the expense of the other side, when really both sides are necessary.
The left brain is thought to be more logical, analytical, objective, critical, dealing with order and structure. It deals with all the areas that spell death to the fledgling visions of a first draft. At the first draft stage of creating, the right brain, dealing with intuition, emotion, imagination, creativity, needs to be given free rein. Roz Morris describes this stage as ‘guided dreaming’. She says ‘Your dreaming brain doesn’t get stuck and it doesn’t censor. It’s a private experience; it doesn’t have to please an audience. It explores and often surprises. There will be rubbish, but there will also be moments of sublime inspiration and crazy invention.’
So, I’m trying! Trying to ignore all the rubbish and trust that in there somewhere, there is something worthwhile, dare I hope the occasional ‘sublime inspiration’?!
Later, at the editing stage, I can bring in that ogre LEFT BRAIN and set it to work. Its role is vital, but not yet!