Thursday, May 3, 2012

Writing Without Writing - How to Write a Story in 15 Minute Stretches

One of the fundamental concepts of Taoism is the idea of Wei Wu Wei: action without action. It's also one of the hardest concepts to grasp. Not long ago, COURAGE2CREATE wrote about writing in 15 minute stretches. It's an idea I've been trying to get in touch with myself, with varying degrees of success. It's a great idea to compartmentalize your writing in this way, as there are days and even weeks where sitting down is impossible. The problem is, sometimes we need 15 minutes to get started - organize our thoughts, and get ready to transform a blank screen into magic. That's where Wei Wu Wei comes in.

When you have a moment to write, whether it be 10 minutes or 30, use these moments to brainstorm your story. In other words, put down the computer and pick up your notebook. When you have a short burst of time, use it to plan your next scene. Create some new place names. Sketch the ideas you have, write to yourself, meditate. A story takes more than just sitting down and typing words. It takes planning and crafting, and these things take time.

Basically, what you're doing in these short stretches is getting yourself ready - you're preparing yourself so that the next time you get a chance to write, whether it be for five minutes or five hours, you can just go - no thinking, no stopping, no wasting time with side-quests like inventing new man-eating plants for your universe.

I've been taking this approach lately, to mixed results - sometimes, if you set goals that aren't writing, then you can feel like you've achieved something without writing. You haven't. All you've done is put yourself in a better place to meet your real goals. It's worth doing, but keep the end in mind while you're practicing Wei Wu Wei.


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