“Before you learn to write well, to trust yourself as a writer, you will have to learn to be patient in the presence of your own thoughts.”
Verilyn is a frequent contributor on writing craft at The New York Times, and some of his observations about rhythm and writing are truly inspired (to come in a future post!). He is often asked about his writing process. In the Times column called “Draft,” he noted, “My answer is simple: I think patiently, trying out sentences in my head.”
While this technique can be challenging, it’s also very rewarding. So often, we feel rushed or pressured to get something, anything, down on the page so that we can feel we’re making progress. But when we give in to this sense of urgency, it can be easy to miss that “still, small voice” inside that’s waiting to be heard. One way to hear that voice — especially in the form of a character that you’re working to develop — is to have that character dictate something to you. I’ve done this several times and had some surprising results.
Basically, you invite your character to chat with you and then just free write, getting down on paper whatever comes your way. Some people even use phone apps to capture whatever crops up. But whatever technique you use, the goal is pretty much the same: to learn to be “patient in the presence of your own thoughts,” because that’s where your true originality lies. Write on!