Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Organizing your notes for writing

Wonderful travel writer Frank Bures has an interesting interview with George Saunders, author of "The Braindead Megaphone" in World Hum, 10.05.07 that includes this passage:

"What’s it like when you come back from a trip and sort through your material?

It goes like this: Type up every scrap of notes, transcribe every tape. Start sifting through all of that 100-odd single-spaced pages of mess, to try and find some critical incidents you know you’re going to use. This is the hard part—since nothing is polished yet, nothing seems like it will make good writing, ever. When you’ve finally revised these incidents or vignettes, and put them in some kind of order, suddenly there actually is a story there."

Feel better now? All writers go through the moments of mental clutter when nothing seems right, and then somehow our marvelous brain knows how to sort the threads and ideas into something we can work with. Don't get discouraged if you sit down to write and don't know where it's going. You're moving forward. That's what counts - that's where the action is.

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