Do you ever get words stuck in your head? I’ve heard it’s a symptom of OCD (though if you look up a full list of OCD symptoms you’ll probably un-diagnose yourself). There was a time in my life when these words plagued me. I’d read the name of a chemical on a shampoo bottle in the morning and it would play over and over and over and over, whenever my mind was quiet.
This morning, for no reason at all, I thought of the word “flamingo.” Flamingo, flamingo, flamingo. And just as it was starting to get annoying I though, “Maybe I could use this.”
So the challenge this week is to write something using a repetitive word. I know it can work when wielded by the right writer–just read something by Robert Lopez and you’ll see what I mean. (Seriously, though, read Robert Lopez anyway. He’s amazing.)
Our lives are so full of numbers. Dates, identification, expenditures–and yet I find, in my writing, I almost never number anything. Part of this is a fear that I’ll get the number wrong–I don’t want to say that something cost $1.69 in case it ought to cost $3.50–but also because that kind of information seems useless and mundane. But today, I’m challenging myself to use numbers in my writing, in part because the protagonist of my current project is a numbers person and likely to numerate the world around her.
I am a controlled writer. I have often thought out the words before they hit the page–the first dozen, at least–and they unspool from there in a fairly metered way. I don’t suffer typos (a peeve my smartphone is trying to cure me of through exposure therapy) and I sometimes spend too long deliberating my diction. However, there are times when the writing flows without thinking. These are often the best times. Yes, they might need a bit of editing on the next read and when brought to workshop I have occasionally baffled readers with my oddball phrasing. No, these sentences might not end up in the final draft. But sometimes, whether the words end up working or not, I simply need to turn off my brain and let my fingers fly.
So that’s today’s challenge. Write without thinking. Set a timer for two minutes and simply begin. Don’t go back for typos, if you can help it. Just roll down the hill of your thoughts.
Some of you know I’ve been posting writing prompts on Wednesdays for a while now; sometimes I post whatever I produced from that inspiration, as well. At this point, I’ve posted so many that it seems whatever I come up with is a variation on something we’ve done before.
Do you ever follow Hemingway’s famous advice, “Write drunk, edit sober?”
I’ve never had great luck writing drunk. Alcohol used to make me write these crazy, horrible poems–the kind of stuff you might’ve written in seventh grade–and then email them to an old friend who found them highly amusing.
Only once have I written anything under the influence that I later considered worth editing: a section of a story in which the character had been drinking. It was like method acting. The character had some hilariously twisted thoughts that I don’t know if I could have written sober. Interesting thoughts. Uninhibited thoughts, I suppose.
So maybe it’s worth a try, huh? Let me know if you like it.