Dudes. I have discovered Dr. Wicked’s Write or Die.
You input your word count goal and allot the time for that goal (i.e., 200 words in 15 minutes…or 800 words in 30 minutes..etc., etc., etc.)
Depending on the mode you select, the penalties for not continuously typing include turning the screen red, the computer blaring Hanson (mmm bop!) at you, or downright deleting your words. The goal being that you type and type and type and turn OFF your internal editor.
It worked. Internal editor off. I finally wrote and only hit backspace/delete twice! (Seriously, I sometimes end my writing sessions with FEWER words than I’ve begun with–due to my compulsive use of the backspace/delete key). Typing like the wind–speeding without care for form or technique. Typing like the wind, getting to the emotional guts of things.
I won’t be keeping every sentence I’ve written, but I know that some good stuff made it onto “paper” because it snuck past my sleeping/distracted Editor. Stuff that wouldn’t have made it onto the page had the Editor been vigilant. Because I was typing like the wind, running past the Editor, getting to the emotional guts of things.
I wonder sometimes, what the MFA has done to, and for, my writing. Mostly because I wonder where the raw emotion has gone. Certainly deep and raw emotion makes an appearance in my writing occasionally but for the most part I marvel at the sterility of my writing.
I was talking to a friend via IM the other day, a kick-ass writer with an MFA. “I think my pre-MFA writing had a spark to it that it doesn’t have now,” I wrote. She answered, “I was thinking the same thing.”
My “best” publishing credit pre-dates the time in my MFA program. My best writing, I think, has little to do with my MFA program. My best writing has come to me in some inspired burst. My best writing has gotten published and I know why. My best writing makes me feel lighter than air once I write it down. My best writing has rattled me to my core.
I have a deep hope that the spirit will return to my writing. I like to think that I learned technical aspects of writing in my MFA program, and I learned to edit (sooo many times I’ve been told that I’m an excellent editor–much to my chagrin, I think I’m a better editor than writer).
I like to think that one’s time in an MFA program might be similar to learning to play a piano–that you have to learn to play scales…and maybe the soul of the art might disappear, the gut instinct might disappear…but once you master technique, then the artistry comes back.
It’s an interesting balance: skill and art. You get accepted into an MFA program because the admissions committee spots that glow of art in you writing. And then you go through the MFA program to gain skill, maybe beat the art and emotion out of you. But then, but then, but then….the art from your core will return.
I hope I hope I hope.
I wonder how others feel about this.