Tuesday, December 7, 2010

There's A Crazy Person Inside of You: Get Them Out!

First off, let me ask you a question: have you ever heard of the International Baccalaureate programme?

No? Well, I'll explain, then. International Baccalaureate is simply another word for "crazy".
Fine. It isn't really, but it might as well be. Just a quick overview: the International Baccalaureate (or "IB") is a worldwide program for, to put it bluntly, smart people. Really smart people. The work is hard, you're constantly learning things a grade above you and in grade 12 you can take university courses (and get credit for them). But as well as all of that, you have to write an Extended Essay and complete 150 hours of volunteer service. People in countries all over the world mark IB exams. It's quite the presitigious program. All of this, however, is supposed to make you a better person.

Although, in my class, (yes I'm currently in IB -but don't get the notion that I'm smart, now. I just work hard) this means you're crazy. You don't even want me to relate some of the insane things that have happened so far this year with the lovable yet crazy perfectionists that are my classmates.

Most recently (today), a small girl who has high aspirations and is a grade A perfectionist, came across her pencil case full of pens where her well-meaning friends (very well meaning to get a good laugh, that is) had switched all the pen caps on her pens.

Chaos ensued, as the girl shouted, "This cap isn't even the same BRAND!" and started to cry. No, I am not making this up.

Which, finally, brings me to my point. Last year all the grade tens in my school had to go to this session about protecting yourself against creeps (basically) and the instructor told us we had inside of us an "inner mean girl", a "little girl" and a "wise woman". Right now, I am going to tell you that all of us writers have a little girl (or guy) inside of us who screams and cries when her (or his) pen caps get switched.

Some people call this our "inner editor". While writing our first draft, we write a sentence. This is the first sentence. Now, while waiting for inspiration and absent-mindedly pressing the shift key, we re-read the sentence and all of a sudden that girl/guy inside of us who needs the pen caps in the right places starts to crawl out from the cracks between the floorboards.

She or he starts screaming, "There MUST be a better way to word that, you could use more DESCRIPTION, for goodness sake, ohno ohno ohnoooooo this isn't PERFECT!" And suddenly, you're going back to rewrite the first sentence, over and over and over and over again.

This is the first sentence of your first draft. FIRST DRAFT, I repeat. Somewhere, once, I read that your first draft is for nothing but getting your ideas down. Seeing how they all fit together, working out what happens when, what works the best.

That is why I say, give that matching-pen-cap loving girl(guy) the boot! At least, while you're still in the beginner stages of your story, where you just need to let the ideas flow. Isn't writing, after all, about creativity? Even in editing, I think we need to keep a degree of creativity and not let our inner matching-pen-cap loving girl/guy take over (small as s/he is).

Just write. 


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