Writing advice from the advisers

Rolling power outages in Houston have forced me to abandon my apartment to keep warm in my local Starbucks …  which is also experiencing power outages.

On to our regularly scheduled writing stuff.

I’m in the midst of comps madness. On Monday, I met with my advisers, who gave me spot-on writing advice. I’m having trouble pruning and organizing my comps list, so they suggested that I free-write for 8–10 pages.  They told me not to worry about research, quotes, literary theory, criticism, or the hundred other things that can trip up writing.  It’s like a fiction editor giving permission to use as many adjectives as you want. Or a Snow Day. Yeah, sure, at some point you’ll have to edit out the fluff and make up the lost school days. But today, let’s go make snow angels!

One of them even suggested to start in the middle if need be. If one chapter is more fully developed in my head, start there. Only caveat–I have to write in complete sentences. Did they talk to my writing workshop professor?

It’s such a flexible assignment: “write what you like.” How often are we given permission to do this? In the beginning, that’s how we all start writing, just putting words to paper, not worrying about what other people think. But when you start playing with the big boys, you pay so much attention to the details that the joy gets sucked out of the process. Or at least that’s how I’ve felt lately.

It’s so liberating to be given permission to play with words. And in the end, I’ll have a better idea what my project will look like and I’ll have a baby draft of my prospectus. Brilliant!

In other news, “Sunny Came Home” by Shawn Colvin is playing on the radio. I love this song like mad, almost as much as “Closing Time” Semisonic. Feel free to judge.

Also, my hands hurt. Here’s hoping the power comes back soon!


4 thoughts on “Writing advice from the advisers

  1. Misha says:

    Sounds wonderful. I'm restraining myself from writing what I want just so that I can finish my WiP. I get distracted far too easily. 🙂

  2. Laura Campbell says:

    I start out writing what I want. Then I take my work to my writers group. They tell me what they want. Head back home, look over notes and compare with my original vision. Finally, blend together to create a new draft. Warning last step is more strenuous than the others.

  3. Anna says:

    Agreed on both comments. I should have mentioned that this step works best at the beginning of the project (for me, figuring out the outline of the diss). The hard part-figuring out those pesky references and quotes, and making a solid argument-will come later, with a vengeance.Good luck, writer amigos!

  4. Heather E says:

    Sounds like a great idea – I should probably try that very thing. I've been trying to come up with questions and answer outlines for my committee, but I keep getting sidetracked by other projects. Could I have a smaller plate, please?(Hope your hands finally warmed up.)

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