I needed to write another MUF post. I sat in front of my computer, staring at the screen. Time was tight. Inspiration limited. Then my brain stepped in to save the day.
In a gloriously generous gesture, my brain volunteered to conduct an interview with a wide variety of sources, tapping into their collective wisdom about writing and creativity. When I accused my brain of simply pulling together a random sampling of writing quotes and miscellaneous ramblings, it assured me this was not the case. It then provided the following transcript from the interview.
* * * * *
MY BRAIN: I sure do spend a lot of time staring out the window when I’m supposed to be writing. Is that okay?
ALBERT EINSTEIN: “Creativity is the residue of wasted time.”
MY BRAIN: Thanks, Al. I guess that sitting-and-starting thing is okay then. But even once I get something written, it always needs so much more work. . . .
ROBERT CORMIER: “The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon.”
SCOTT ADAMS: “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”
MY BRAIN: That’s really great! I’m quickly gaining insights. This is truly—
STEPHEN KING: “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”
MY BRAIN: Oh. Sorry, Mr. King. I’d even say I’m really sorry, but I suppose that would only serve to quicken my journey down the road to hell. Anyway, what about plot? I want to make it so my readers feel compelled to keep going.
BLAKE CROUCH: “Create an expectation in the readers for what’s going to happen next (let them think they’re ahead of the author) and then do something completely different.”
WILLIAM ARCHER: “Drama is anticipation mingled with uncertainty.”
KENDRA ELLIOT: “Give the characters sucky and suckier choices.”
MY BRAIN: That makes sense. . . .
MAX ALLAN COLLINS: “Suspense only works if we care about the characters. An incredibly dangerous situation involving a character we care little for is rather a waste of the imagination.”
MY BRAIN: I’ll keep that in mind, too. . . . This writing thing is hard work, but it feels like my story idea is coming together now! Of course, once it’s done, I know I’ll have to revise. And revision sucks. Any advice on how I should approach that part of the writing process?
ELIE WIESEL: “Writing is not like painting where you add. It is not what you put on the canvas that the reader sees. Writing is more like a sculpture where you remove, you eliminate in order to make the work visible. Even those pages you remove somehow remain.”
MARK TWAIN: “Substitute damn every time you’re inclined to write very; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”
ELMORE LEONARD: “I try to leave out the parts that people skip.”
MY BRAIN: Well, I guess that does it. Thanks again, everyone, for all of your help! Now, if anyone else has a writing quote or personal insight to share, I sure do hope they post it in the comments below. . . .
Along with his MUF posts, T. P. Jagger can be found at www.tpjagger.com, where he provides brief how-to writing-tip videos as The 3-Minute Writing Teacher plus original, free readers’ theater scripts for middle-grade teachers. He also has even more readers’ theater scripts available at Readers’ Theater Fast and Funny Fluency. For T. P.’s 10-lesson, video-based creative writing course, check him out on Curious.com.