Organic Writing

1 Aug

I want to promote something I’ve been referring to as ‘organic writing’.  That term has probably already been coined  because, let’s face it, it’s not that clever. But I do feel that it is an appropriate name for what I want to talk about.

Reading around on various writing resources (among those Reddit’s r/writing) I’ve come across various threads, comments and blog posts (usually in the form of a terribly contrived top 10 list) dealing with things that “every writer should do” or “the key to writing as much as possible with the greatest quality”. I’m calling bullshit on all of them.

These lists and posts usually share a lot in common. Some of them are nothing but thinly veiled rewords of previous posts the creator has seen online and most of them don’t even bother with the inconvenience of disguising the fact that they are not original. The most common tips I see on these posts are the ones I loathe the most.

“Write at the same time every day.”

 No.

Sure, if you find that this works for you and increases your productivity then go for it. But for most people, myself included, having a certain amount of free time set aside at the same time every single day is next to impossible. Unless you’re unemployed and have absolutely no friends, family or other hobbies I can’t see how this is possible at all. I have no idea when I’m going to receive a phone call from a friend, an atypical work shift or even whether or not I’m going to spot a balloon floating overheard that day and follow it for miles only to discover that it’s 6 o’ clock and oh god I have no pencil.

“Write for the same amount of time every day.” 

No,

Don’t do this. If you write for half an hour and are not enjoying the words you’re putting on paper or even the process of writing at that moment in time then do not do it. I cannot think of a more efficient way to begin loathing what you’re doing. I think it goes without saying that if you’ve reached your hour/three hour/however long goal you should not stop writing. Write until the words stop coming. It’s like cutting off a piss half way: you won’t get any satisfaction and it will come out later when you don’t want it to.

“Write first thing in the morning.” 

No.

Why should I? If its 8 in the morning and I’m awake its more likely that I’m drunk and haven’t gone to bed yet. When I do get up it usually takes me at least a good hour of fucking around and drinking tea until I’m at the mental capacity to produce valid sentences in response to other human beings, never mind drawing prose from the depths of my imagination.

I’m not saying that these rules do not work for some people, I’m sure they do. However it is entirely unreasonable for every writer, even the majority of writers, to conform to this standard. The worst part of this is that the same stuff is regurgitated so often and in so many forms that they begin to look like facts.

‘I’ve seen this on four websites now, this must be the only way to write!’

I hate it.  In my opinion, there is only one way to write: Your own way. I try to write every day. I do this because if I don’t I won’t. In so many ways. I am my own worst enemy. I have written 20,000 words of a novel at this moment in time and after a month of writing hard I’m beginning to flail. Why? I’ve got writer’s block? No. I haven’t had time? No. I’m just being a fucking asshole to myself for no reason. I have a vague (I cannot stress the word ‘vague’ enough) idea of where I want to bring the story and I’m happy with what I’ve written so far but I just fucking love to watch myself suffer.

Another subject that most writers seem to agree on is planning. Everywhere I look I see people talking about how they’ve just finished planning out their first novel or how they think that planning a novel from the very start is the only way to get it finished. I have to disagree again. Of course this works for some people (in this case, maybe even the majority) but it isn’t a rule. The novel I’m working on began with one scene. I had an idea in my head of a man standing in his hallway holding a stack of letters that had been arriving continuously to his house. For some reason he doesn’t want to open them, even though he knows what he will find inside, and then there is a knock at the door and shit goes down. I started from that and I’ve continued to let this story spiral out of control for the better part of a month now.

Anyway, this is the main philosophy of organic writing: Just write. Id go so far as to say I don’t like planning at all, except on the most rudimentary level, and here’s why.

Actually let me start with the downsides, of which I can only think of one. Sometimes I come to a point in the road where the light is red and I find myself unsure of what to do next. But eventually it turns green. I don’t think this problem is exclusive to writing without a plan though.

And now the good stuff. As I write my book I’m also reading it for the first time. Each time I finish a sentence and begin another I’m excited about where my story is going because I honestly don’t know. I find myself thinking ‘Oh shit, really? What’s gonna happen now?’ I’m genuinely as excited writing it as I want my future readers to be (if any exist). I think that’s the most important thing, the only universal writing tip there is: Love what you’re writing.

But I’ll get it done this time, this novel. Not because I’m writing 1000 words at 7 am every day and not because I have an intricate plan all set out, but because I genuinely love what I’m writing.

Gavin

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2 Responses to “Organic Writing”

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  1. My Word is Law | Tom Never Writes - August 3, 2013

    […] lot has been building up. So now, before I start, I would suggest you take a quick break to look at the blog post in question, from Gavin’s blog, Tseudo, discussing writer’s lists and tips and tricks. That was a […]

  2. Writing a Novel – Where do I begin? | My Writing Blog - October 10, 2014

    […] to their creativity. Does It make the process of writing laborious knowing how the novel will end?  Isn’t part of the journey of writing a novel similar to that of reading a book for the first… Where is the spontaneity and excitement in writing? One of the risks with Outlining is that you […]

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