Wednesday, November 21, 2012

"Don't worry about knowing what you mean..."

This funk that I've been in while writing this article isn't a funk at all. I'm not sure why I don't remember this feeling and this process when I begin a project. Why am I surprised by this? I suppose, really, I am not. I think my ego gets in the way as I think I should be better (i.e., more immediate, faster) than I am.

Peter Elbow brought about the term "freewriting" that resulted in his book Writing Without Teachers. In the book he writes,

"[D]on't worry about knowing what you mean or what you intend ahead of time; you don't need a plan or outline, let things wander and digress. Though this approach makes for initial panic [No shit, Peter], my overall experience with it is increased control" (1973, 32-33).

The poet William Stafford explored this issue, too. He wrote,

"I must be willing to fail. If I am to keep writing, I cannot bother to insist on high standards. I must get into action and not let anything stop me, or even slow me much... I am following the process that leads so wildly and originally into new territory that no judgment can be made about values, significance, and so on. I am making something new, something that has not been judged before. Later others--and maybe myself--will make judgments. Now I am headlong to discover. Any distraction will harm creating" (A Way of Writing, by William Stafford 1989, 18).

I am on page 9.

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