Mind Games or Pre-writing Techniques?

Back when I wrote my column for the paper, I’d try to set aside one whole morning a week to write my 560 or so words.  Once I actually started writing, it usually didn’t take me but about 23 minutes to discover “the point” of what I was going to write, and that would have been around word 700 of my first draft (usually around 800).  Once I got to the “sweet spot,” the place in the column where I finally went “Ooooh, THAT’s what I’m trying to say,” the rest was cake.  I’d finish whatever else I thought I needed to say, then, with the “sweet spot” in mind, I’d go back through and take out whatever didn’t relate (mostly).  This was hard.  Because the stuff that didn’t relate was often some of my most witty and pithy commentary. (I can say that as there’s nothing to disprove it—it’s all on the virtual cutting room floor.)

So, really and honestly, if I knew what I was going to say, it took me less than an hour to produce a whole and mostly good column.  So what did I do with the rest of that morning time?

Spider solitaire.  And lots of it.

With Spider you can go back and restart the game when you lose. So I’d do that until I could figure it out.  Sometimes that took minutes, other times hours, and, rarely, but it did happen, I gave up the game altogether.  I found myself reliant on this “pre-writing” routine. If I could win a few games easily, I knew I was ready to write.  If I struggled with seeing the patterns, I knew I was in trouble.  I knew my mind was cluttered and confused and the writing would be, too.  Generally.  And when I got frustrated with the game playing, I’d start playing with words instead of cards.  And eventually, with deadlines looming, I sometimes wrote some stinkers because I just couldn’t get those cards in order let alone those words.

Why does this come up today?  While waiting on hold on the phone, I lost the same game four times in a row.  This does not bode well for the writing projects hanging over my head.  Or does it?  But business writing is different.  Sweet spots don’t come like Mr. Darcy out of the mists (oh, you knew there had to be a Pride and Prejudice reference in here somewhere as I obsessOBSESS, I tell you!); they are given (and, generally, are less than sweet or even inspiring).  So, maybe losing is really just the opposite.  My brain is confuddled enough for the writing I must do, perhaps.

Perhaps I just need to do it.  There’s another writing practice I employ on occasion–to simply write.

Ah well, what pre-writing techniques have you, if any?

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About TinaLBPorter

I write poetry and blog at www.tinalbporter.com. And I'm thrilled to be writing with you.
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6 Responses to Mind Games or Pre-writing Techniques?

  1. Pingback: What a day it may be; then again, maybe not « uuMomma

  2. mskitty says:

    Writing the blog, which I don’t try to make too perfect, gets me started putting words together and forming ideas. I’ve found it easier to write sermons since I started writing the blog.

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  3. I confess to being another last-minute writer. The daily crossword at yahoo games, or writing a draft blog entry, helps get me started. While writing I sometimes open up Aloha Solitaire or Mah Jong Quest and reward every section or paragraph with a game or two. Sometimes that’s what keeps me plugging away at a difficult paper (like the chapter I had to write last week). Being home-home is harder – there are too many distractions, like finding out what kind of snacks are in the pantry…

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  4. Jan says:

    I think the only time I get the bed made AND the kitchen cleaned up early in the day is when I have something that needs to be written. Actually, like today!

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  5. radical mama says:

    Wait until the last minute and let my anxiety take over. I know, I know. Bad advice. But it works for me!

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  6. I do a fair amount of free writing, mostly first thing in the morning.

    I have prevented myself from ever playing on-line games because I think it would be the beginning of the end for me. 🙂

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