Newly minted authors often have a lot share: not just their energy and enthusiasm, but also in terms of their approaches to writing. Just recently, I read an interview with Cara Chow, the author of Bitter Melon, a YA novel. After being revised twice based on her agent’s suggestions, the novel was submitted to 13 publishers, which resulted in an auction among three publishers for the book. Not a bad result for a first-time author!
In discussing her writing process, Cara said, “When I’m generating material, I make an effort not to edit while I’m writing. For example, I’ll give myself freedom to describe the same thing three times in a row, knowing that I can go back later and choose the description that works best. The same holds true for dialogue, whole scenes, and sometimes whole drafts. Later, I can review my manuscript with the mindset of an editor with a surgical knife and tape.”
What caught my eye is Cara’s comment about giving herself “freedom to describe the same thing three times in a row” and the fact that she adopts the same approach for writing dialogue and whole scenes. The concept of not editing while you’re writing has been talked about a lot, but the idea of literally generating multiple snippets of dialogue or an event or character reaction sounds really intriguing.
What Cara is really talking about it seems to me is giving yourself permission to play on the page — to experiment, to invent, to innovate, to take chances, to write dangerously. In a way, perhaps we have to become “freedom fighters” when it comes to our own creativity and surrender old habits and ideas we may have about how we should write that may not be serving us all that well. The idea, for example, of coming up with different ways of describing the same scene or dialogue sounds very fruitful, doesn’t it? It would certainly challenge us to ignite our ingenuity! Let’s try it and see what happens. Write on!