I jest. I’m not doing my finals. I’m British, I don’t even have finals. I’m not even one hundred percent sure what finals are.
Nope, I’m talking about my final piece for class. Basically, I have been tasked with coming up with a larger writing project, like a complete short story, to put together over four weeks.
So I sit down and realise that I do not have a clue what to write for this hypothetical short story. Then I have an epiphany for a much larger idea which would most definitely take longer than four weeks. With nothing else leaping out at me, however, I go right ahead and write the synopsis I was asked to put together on the off-chance I won’t end up presenting it. Then I end up presenting it – and get unexpectedly inundated with collective enthusiasm.
So I have to write it now.
Not that this is some huge burden. I mean, it’s still huge, but it’s not a burden. It’s actually fun to write. Funny but twisted, and really easy to fill with snappy dialogue – all aided by my recent, and curiously powerful, desire to watch old Buffy boxsets with their witty one-liners and loveable characters. So this weekend I went ahead and got started writing it. I started out a bit slow – a couple of five hundred word stints of dialogue in no particular chronological order – and then something happened: 9,000 words in three days.
It was scary not just because of its sheer quantity. I’ve actually been writing everything in order this time, from the very first scene. That never happens for me! I mean, sure, it’s a first draft, so it needs a heck of a lot more work to be properly cohesive, but I’ve actually carved out a bunch of plot points I didn’t have a clue how to approach this time last Friday.
So, what have I learned, aside from that I am on freakin’ fire this week? I’ve learned that nothing makes a person more productive than an embryonic concept. The more you think about an idea, the more solid it becomes – and as Iris Murdoch said, “Every book is the wreck of a perfect idea.” So if you don’t get too attached to an idea in the first place, you’ll have less expectations of the finished product. The fewer the expectations, the freer you are to just wing it in prose – and the more pleasantly surprised you are with what you create.
I’m also finally getting into the swing of writing first drafts. It’s so cool, this almost free-writing task of just moving the story along without getting stressed about syntax and plot and characters. There’s this passiveness to it, where your brain and typin’ fingers just crack on with it and don’t fuss over the details.
A good week. A very good week.