Don’t you stop your writing!
Thank you! I’m glad you enjoy my work. I want to answer your question, even though you begged me not to. :)
Good Writing is Good Cooking
Think + Write + Edit = Ingredients + Cook + Garnish
1) Think/Ingredients. Words are concrete thoughts, so it makes sense to begin with how to think. The best writing begins with the best thoughts. No one wants a piece of cake made with month-old eggs and moldy flour.
So spend time thinking. Exercise your thinking. Stretch your brain as far in the past as it can go, then imagine being very tiny, then imagine being massive. Imagine love. Remember an enemy. Remember what someone said. Combine thoughts. Mix them around, and see what batter forms. Then when you have a thought that feels roughly like it could exist in reality, stick it in the oven.
2) Write/Cook. Writing is an oven. It’s cramped. It’s hellish. It seems like it takes forever.
It’s also something you have to do over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. Anyone who does anything excellent either had luck or had work. You can’t control the former, but you can definitely influence the latter.
I’m a quantity over quality type of person. You think every day, so write down what you think every day. No good chef is like, “Sorry, I have the ingredients, but I’m not going to cook today. I’m waiting until I figure out the Next Great Recipe.” Get in the word kitchen and write. Don’t set out to write lobster and caviar words: write cookies and ice cream and salad and french fries. Write what sustains you.
3) Edit/Garnish. This is the place where a lot of people get stuck. If you only have the first two steps, then all you have is writing, the majority of which is garbage. Most of your word muffins are burnt or lumpy or gooey or dry or clearly inedible. If you pass off your writing to other people without editing it is trash. (Unless you won the word lottery, congratulations! You can retire to your own private literary island!)
"Oh no! My precious words! Everything I write is the best thing ever! That’s how I feel!" Nope. It isn’t. Other people will take one bite of your pastry, and if it tastes like shit, they will not take bite number two.
So how do you edit? Same way you prepare a cake: let it cool, decorate it, and serve it on your best porcelain. Think about what you wrote. Take time with each sentence, every word. Say it out loud. Cut off the burnt pieces, the cliches, the clunky word flow, the lapses in grammar. Frost your writing with a thesaurus.
(At some point you will be able to edit AS you write, but this takes practice or else you might end up throwing everything you write away. Writer’s block is overzealous editing, which is a topic for another post.)
I like the haiku format because it forces me to slow down and edit. Unless I’m lucky and the words taste divine, I’m probably going to have to garnish my work before its tasty.
4) An Example. I start with the thought:
"Good writing is something that is a good thought that you write down, and you do that a bunch and then you read what other people write and you figure out what is good then you edit it and then it has to echo through people like a drum."
Which is absolute drivel. So I edit out the garbage:
I check a thesaurus, and I find that “reverberate” is a stronger word than “echo”. It also means I can get rid of “drum”.
"Good writing reverberates through people."
I look for words better than “people”. I like the alliteration of “being”. Also, this applies not just to writing, but to art in general. A little bit of reformatting and I have:
good art /
in your being
#haiku #sixwords #poetry