Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A clip post on writing: Jennifer Egan and Michael Agger

Two quick clips on writing.

Jennifer Egan, via ia Perfect from Now On:
The second thing is, I feel like getting in the habit of it is huge. I guess that was my one accomplishment of those two years [with the first failed novel]— making it a routine is a gigantic part of it.
One corollary of that— and this is probably the most important thing for me— is being willing to write really badly. It won’t hurt you to do that. I think there is this fear of writing badly, something primal about it, like: “This bad stuff is coming out of me…” Forget it! Let it float away and the good stuff follows.

And this, from Michael Agger's "How to Write Faster" at Slate:
The infamously productive Trollope, who used customized paper! "He had a note pad that had been indexed to indicate intervals of 250 words," William F. Buckley told the Paris Review. "He would force himself to write 250 words per 15 minutes. Now, if at the end of 15 minutes he hadn't reached one of those little marks on his page, he would write faster." Buckley himself was a legend of speed—writing a complete book review in crosstown cabs and the like.
. . .
Ann Chenoweth and John Hayes (2001) found that sentences are generated in a burst-pause-evaluate, burst-pause-evaluate pattern, with more experienced writers producing longer word bursts. . . . One also finds dreadful confirmation of one's worst habits: "Binge writing—hypomanic, euphoric marathon sessions to meet unrealistic deadlines—is generally counterproductive and potentially a source of depression and blocking," sums up the work of Robert Boice. One strategy: Try to limit your working hours, write at a set time each day, and try your best not to emotionally flip out or check email every 20 seconds. This is called "engineering" your environment.
. . .
Like many writers, I take a lot of notes before I compose a first draft. The research verifies that taking notes makes writing easier­—as long as you don't look at them while you are writing the draft! Doing so causes a writer to jump into reviewing/evaluating mode instead of getting on with the business of getting words on the screen.
Alas, the cognitive literature offers no easy solutions. The same formula appears: "Self-regulation through daily writing, brief work sessions, realistic deadlines, and maintaining low emotional arousal."


Dame Eleanor Hull said...

I like both of these.

Anonymous said...

It's all true, true, true. But easier said than done. One of us is better at the Boice approach than the other.

undine said...

I liked them both too, Dame Eleanor, and like nicoleandmaggie I think they're true. I'm going through a tough patch with my writing and these were helpful.

Anonymous said...

I still say: any form of progress every day. I am just so much better at the anything, so long as it's every day, Sunday through Friday plan, that greater detail only trips me up.