Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tick ... tock ... tick

This is a timed writing. You may be unfamiliar with that term. Basically a timed writing is when you write as fast as possible for a certain amount of time (in this case, 15 minutes) in an attempt to awaken your creativity and to stifle your innate "editor." (When I worked for a newspaper several years ago, there were many a time when we wanted to stifle or even smother the editor, but this is another thing entirely.) 
      Supposedly this device will allow you to tap your subconscious which is just brimming with ideas and cool stuff. I say "your" subconscious because apparently mine is empty or is out for a quick bite to eat and then stopped to see an afternoon matinee since the tickets are so much cheaper then. Otherwise, I wouldn't be using this as my blog post. With me? 
      Yes, sometimes I run out of things to say. Hard to believe, I know, perhaps you should sit down. 
      I use these timed writings in my poetry class to awaken my students' creativity as well as get them accustomed to the idea of actually writing. I know that sounds strange, but a lot of people would be a writer if it wasn't for the rotten inconvenience of actually having to write. I do understand this: I would be Lucy Lawless's love slave except for her inconvenient husband as well as that protective order she took out against me, but that's another story involving a nun, a pelican and a mule named Lois Jo. 
      Anyway, the point is that we all have this editor that criticizes what we think. It says of every idea, "No, that's dumb. What, you only got gravel for brains? How many times did the stupid stick hit you anyway? Be quiet and don't make a fool -- well, a bigger fool of yourself." Timed writings are about shutting that guy up. 
      Not that I am a big believer in just letting it all hang out. After you get the words down on paper, you need to go back and polish them. I believe most things benefit from editing. I recently watched the movie Titanic on home video. It's a long, long, long movie. By the end of it, I would have torpedoed the ship just to get it over. And as I type right now, I am making many -- a few -- really, just a couple -- okay -- one error which I will go back and fix after the timed writing is over. Otherwise you wouldn't be able to understand it -- which might not be a bad thing entirely. 
      My 15 minutes is up so I have added another 15 so that I can finish this. In other words, I am two-timing my timed writing. (That was a lot of work to get that joke in there, and I'm not sure it was worth the effort. Let me know.) 
      The idea of a time limit could easily be adapted to political speeches. We give each candidate 15 minutes to speak -- I mean total including radio and television ads -- and then we vote. We wouldn't be any less informed than we are now, and the candidates would have less time with which to lie. 
      I have run out of things to write at this time. When this happens to my students, I tell them to write positive thoughts until their brain kicks back in, such as "I am a good writer," "I do a good job," "I am God's gift to women," "Lucy Lawless wants me," "I will be rich and lord it over my snotty neighbors" and so on. Don't write negative thoughts. Timed writings are a way to reach your subconscious, and you don't want to be programming bad thoughts. 
      Most people think they'll have no problem in writing for only 15 minutes, but when they hear that clock ticking, they freeze up faster than a Republican attempting to name one good quality of former President Clinton. The clock creates an amazing sense of pressure that stops some people cold. But I tell them to continue putting words on paper as fast as they can. 
      You put enough pressure on your creativity cork, and eventually it will blow free, surprising you with what it gives you. Like, for instance, a blog entry. 

© 2012 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. Thanks for reading.

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