Wednesday, May 26, 2010

WiP Wednesday: The Joy of Writing Crap

You know, after spending so much time revising Evangeline, I forgot how much I love writing a new draft. I know writing a few chapters of a sequel is different than thinking up something completely new, which makes it that much more enjoyable, but for this first go around, I'm also allowing myself to write crap.

I'm finding that since I gave myself permission to suck, I'm not so stressed about how the story starts. Do we ever really know where the story should start when we begin a new story? I don't, even though sometimes I have a vague idea. In fact, it's often not until I've completed the first draft that I finally know how I want it to begin.

While giving myself permission to suck is great and all, even more fun is letting myself find inspiration in little, meaningless things, things I try to ignore when I'm in editing mode. Evangeline began as a scrap of paper I saw on the bus that looked oddly like a tarot card. And out of such humble beginnings came a 95K novel (with series potential ;D).

I was reminded of this the other day while I was watching The September Issue, which documented the creation and culmination of the 2007 Vogue September Issue. (For the fashion unconscious, September is the biggest and most important issue of all fashion mags, at least in the Northern Hemisphere)

Vogue's creative director, Grace Coddington—there's a fabulous interview with her about the documentary here—has long been one of my artistic idols. A former model, and photographer and one of the most influential women in fashion, Grace is surprisingly down to earth. Her photographs, however—and the photo shoots she plans, like the one below—are out of this world.

In the documentary, Grace tells an anecdote about her father. He always told her to never sleep while traveling, to pay attention and watch everything, because you never know what might inspire you.

I've been thinking a lot lately about this anecdote, and how if I'd been nodding off, or reading a book on the bus that day, I might never have had the idea for Evangeline in the first place. Everything happens for a reason, so I thank whoever unwittingly (or wittingly, I'm not that picky) dropped that wrapper or paper or whatever it was that turned into a story.

What's been inspiring you, lately?

If you're drafting, are you allowing yourself to write crap?


Shannon Whitney Messenger said...

I am SO looking forward to the point of writing crap again. Ah the freedom of being allowed to suck!

And I'm like you--I always keep my eyes and ears open. There's inspiration everywhere. You just have to find it.

Abby Annis said...

Thanks for the reminder, Tere. I think that's part of my problem lately. That dang perfectionism is always getting in the way of my words. Maybe I'll make a sign, "It's okay to write crap." :) No, it's not just another way to procrastinate. ;)

And I'm the opposite of you. I wish I was done drafting so I could start revising. I love how shiny it makes everything. :)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

We HAVE to allow ourselves to write crap. Crap is a gazillion times better than a blank page and gets us that much closer to brilliance. :-)

Krispy said...

I need to let myself write crap more often. My issue right now is turning off that darned internal editor. It's so true that it's less stressful; Nanowrimo was so freeing because of that.

Thanks for sharing both of those anecdotes. Very cool.

jessjordan said...

We writers are a crazy bunch, getting ideas from the strangest places. :) I need to give myself permission to write crap, so I can stop editing and just keep writing, and quit thinking, "Eek! What I wrote is crap! Crap crap crap! I have to change it now!" I have serious Need to Edit Syndrome. It eats me up and keeps me awake at night, and it always pesters me, even when I'm working on first drafts. I need to take my meds for awhile, though, b/c it's slowing me down.

Jen said...

What a beautiful post! Her father said it best, keeping your eyes open for the next big story, poem or shot is something to stay awake for! Writers are always open for the next best thing and the wonders that await the world!

Very great anecdotes, thank you for sharing!

Tere Kirkland said...

I just read my pages back and they reek! It's okay, though, because now that I've got third chapter underway, I know where I'm going.

I'm just going to have to be okay with the first two chapters sucking until the draft is done. ;)

Jade said...

Yes, I'm allowing myself to write crap with my new story. I kept stressing myself out about it, so in the end I just decided to write whatever came into my head and I'll worry about the mess that I've made once I'm done.

Good luck with the new story!

Michelle Gregory said...

nice to find another writer who prefers 1st drafts. 2nd drafts just kill me because i forget that a lot of what i'm writing is actually new stuff and so it's going to sound like crap. i need to treat them more like 1st drafts i guess.

Michelle Gregory said...

and i love your George Orwell quote. one of my favorites. we're all possessed.