A Thought On Method

As a writer for any medium, you often get asked (or are made to ask yourself), “What’s your method?” Some people respond with a very complex list of how they get into the mood to write and then how they go about building their magnum opus while others go at great lengths to explain how they just do things in bursts. I tend to fall into that latter category. My writing inspiration seems to come and go, usually without much warning. I could be sitting in the classroom arguing the semantics of storytelling when this “need” will rise to the surface and eat away at me until I scribble something down. Or, I could be sitting at the local Starbucks drinking a Grande White Mocha when this happens, oftentimes in mid-sip. If I’m lucky, I’ll have a pen nearby. If not, I resort to my laptop.

There was a period of time where I tried to maintain a more organized writing method, what some might call a regimen if you will. I put this into practice during the summer, since I chose not to take any classes, and went to a coffee shop to spend a few hours a day writing. I would ask for a real “froofy” drink and then sit down and write until the battery died. I was able to get a decent amount of work done in around two to three hours (I need a new battery for the ole macbook pro). After about a week or so of this, though, I stopped and went back to my more sporadic method of writing every couple of days or whenever I felt like it.

And then I had a conversation with the Chair of the Film and Video Department at Columbia College. I (alongside a producer from our Practicum class) had pitched a story I was working on and he gave some excellent advice on how to go about fixing the then incomplete story. Later on, we bumped into each other in the hall and talked about the process of writing. I explained my exasperation at the process and he chuckled. He told me that it was a day to day process, and that in this business you need to continually write. It’s a competitive business and if you aren’t writing, you won’t make it. That hit home with me, and I decided to work on my method some. Now, I try to write something every day, whether it be my scripts, Twitter, Friendfeed, this site, or for Generation Tech. But I don’t force myself, either. If I don’t have anything, I don’t write anything.

That’s pretty much my method, explained in a bunch of barely strung together paragraphs. Hopefully the insight was helpful, and gave you something to take away. So, I turn the question to you. “What’s your method?”

Thanks goes out to Kent Nichols for making me think. :)

  • Bob

    I'm the same way about programming. Sometimes I'm in the mood and it just comes naturally, but sometimes I just can't seem to focus or produce anything meaningful. I've come to the same conclusion you have. The key is to at least do a tiny bit every day. Even if I only spend a couple minutes doing it, I can still feel like I've made some progress.

  • Bob

    I’m the same way about programming. Sometimes I’m in the mood and it just comes naturally, but sometimes I just can’t seem to focus or produce anything meaningful. I’ve come to the same conclusion you have. The key is to at least do a tiny bit every day. Even if I only spend a couple minutes doing it, I can still feel like I’ve made some progress.

    • Yeah, as long as I can get SOMETHING written, I’ll feel like I’ve made some amount of progress. Some days it gets real tough and you can feel it as you try to write. Suddenly, 140 characters seems like 4-5 pages. Like I said before, it’s nice that twitter and friendfeed and all them exist so I can at least get something written out.

  • Coco

    I'm kind of with you on the sporadic method. There are days when i'm just a bad writer and days when i'm an excellent one. I deal with it by using my off days to organize what i already have. Write down ideas, organize story arcs, work on character composition, and then i have all the grunt work done when i'm actually ready to piece it all together and write.

  • Coco

    I’m kind of with you on the sporadic method. There are days when i’m just a bad writer and days when i’m an excellent one. I deal with it by using my off days to organize what i already have. Write down ideas, organize story arcs, work on character composition, and then i have all the grunt work done when i’m actually ready to piece it all together and write.

    • From now on, we should call it The Sporadic Method. Makes it seem more official. :) I like your method of getting the grunt work done when you’re not feeling like much of a good writer. I should try that out and see if it helps during my writing slumps.

  • From now on, we should call it The Sporadic Method. Makes it seem more official. :) I like your method of getting the grunt work done when you're not feeling like much of a good writer. I should try that out and see if it helps during my writing slumps.

  • Yeah, as long as I can get SOMETHING written, I'll feel like I've made some amount of progress. Some days it gets real tough and you can feel it as you try to write. Suddenly, 140 characters seems like 4-5 pages. Like I said before, it's nice that twitter and friendfeed and all them exist so I can at least get something written out.

  • From now on, we should call it The Sporadic Method. Makes it seem more official. :) I like your method of getting the grunt work done when you're not feeling like much of a good writer. I should try that out and see if it helps during my writing slumps.

  • Yeah, as long as I can get SOMETHING written, I'll feel like I've made some amount of progress. Some days it gets real tough and you can feel it as you try to write. Suddenly, 140 characters seems like 4-5 pages. Like I said before, it's nice that twitter and friendfeed and all them exist so I can at least get something written out.