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Monday, April 14, 2014

Think Before You Write

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a story in my head.

All my life, while I was busy with grade school and high school and university and work and family there has always been a stream of consciousness separate from my daily life, an alternate universe with denizens and motives and intentions of their own. Usually, it all stayed in the back of my mind while I was concentrating on my daily activities. But in moments of downtime—when I was driving, or doing housework, or before I fell asleep—I would slip over to that other world and just pick up where I left off, as easily as flipping to a bookmarked page.

I have never outgrown it.

I starting serious writing in 2004, when I actively sat down at a key board and starting putting words down and sentences together. Ten years ago, I wrote my first CHAPTER ONE.

But I realized that I had been a writer long before that. I’ve been a writer just about my entire life, even though I’ve only been typing it out for the last ten years of it.

And that’s the true nature of writing: it’s 10% typing and 90% thinking.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if I could hook an electrode-strapped harness to my head to capture all my brain stories, all that 90% that streams along through the back of my head when I can’t stop to write it down. So much of what happens in my brain stories is a once and done thing—a quick and perfect and devastating exchange of dialog, an emotionally-loaded look, an action sequence that would knock your socks right off—so much of it, executed perfectly, then lost.

That kills me. Even if I were to sit down as soon as I can and start banging out the scene, it never feels quite the same as it did during its inception. I feel like I lose little parts of myself every time that happens.

I bought a voice recorder last month so that when I’m driving to work, I can just let it roll and capture all the little story bits as they pop up. Talking it out is a lot different than thinking it out, so the process isn’t perfect—but it helps.

If only I had a brain-harness. An output jack in my frontal lobe, a USB port that I can plug into my computer and just hit DOWNLOAD. It would make for awkward sleeping, probably, and would definitely itch like a bugger but at least I wouldn’t have to worry about that wonderful 90% slipping away before it can be captured in black and white.

Or…and I’m just thinking out loud here…wifi. No wires. Just thinking and watching it type itself on the screen. Like Dragon Naturally Thinking. HOW COOL would that be?

At least for a hot minute. Because if there was tech for that, then there would be a hack, and people could go around wifi’ing your brain and stealing your thoughts and the next thing you know, you’ve wearing a tin foil hat and cowering in a bomb shelter.

Tin foil hats are NOT cool. So, wifi is out. (Haven’t ruled out the USB thing yet, though.)

Until the tech is available, I guess I settle for more analog solutions. Good old pen and paper, stuffed into every purse and pocket and even the pillow case. I'd hate to miss a single word of that 90%.

What about you? When it comes to your writing process, how do you capture your own 90%?


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Don't let 90% of your story slip away! 






Ash Krafton is a speculative fiction writer who, despite having a Time Turner under her couch and three different sonic screwdrivers in her purse, still encounters difficulty with time management. Visit Ash at www.ashkrafton.com for news on her urban fantasy series The Books of the Demimonde (Pink Narcissus Press) or stop by the Demimonde Blog at www.ash-krafton.blogspot.com . WOLF’S BANE (Demimonde #3) is forthcoming mid-2014.

8 comments:

DRC said...

lol...I'm exactly the same, but I don't record them. I go over the same scenes again and again until their embedded in my brain. Occasionally I'll jot notes down but most of it I remember :)

MFGoddard said...

Grab me a tin foil hat, cuz you totally hacked into my brain! I feel exactly the same way - the worst is when you get an idea in the shower - wet paper, leaky ink - messy, messy, messy. Though if we had that little brain harness thingy would I then have to worry about electric shocks while I shower? hmmm... things to ponder. Meanwhile I'll stick to post-its, notebooks by my bed and in my purse and a cooperative and patient spouse that let's me dictate to him when I'm wet. That's love!

Christine said...

I want the usb port. At this point in my life I need post-its on my steering wheel to remember appointments after work. Great article, I tweeted and shared.

Ash Krafton | @ashkrafton said...

A round of tin-foil hats on the house! :) Pity the analog writer, living in a digital dream...

Amanda said...

Oh my goodness, I cannot tell you how many times I've thought how cool it would be to be able to hook my brain up to some kind of recorder to capture all of that awesome dialogue and perfect descriptions of scenes. It's so frustrating. I always have a pen and pad of paper by my bed. And sometimes when I'm at work, I just have to stop and write something down. Really, I want to know when USB ports for the brain are invented lol!

Her Grace, the Duchess of Kneale said...

I once wrote a short story about a woman who thought aliens were tapping into her head (so she wore tinfoil hats). Turns out, she had the ability to receive radio signals, and accidentally busted a spy ring in her local neighborhood.

I digress.

I, too, would love to be able to directly download the story ideas traipsing about my head.

Wireless would be possible if you included a "noise reducer" technology bridge between the implant in your head and the receiver. Implant a very weak broadcaster with a limited range (say, five centimeters) and encryption, that can only be received and decrypted by an external box (waterproof for us shower thinkers) that clips to the side of your head.

Her Grace, the Duchess of Kneale said...

I once wrote a short story about a woman who thought aliens were tapping into her head (so she wore tinfoil hats). Turns out, she had the ability to receive radio signals, and accidentally busted a spy ring in her local neighborhood.

I digress.

I, too, would love to be able to directly download the story ideas traipsing about my head.

Wireless would be possible if you included a "noise reducer" technology bridge between the implant in your head and the receiver. Implant a very weak broadcaster with a limited range (say, five centimeters) and encryption, that can only be received and decrypted by an external box (waterproof for us shower thinkers) that clips to the side of your head.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I do what DRC does. I did, though, once go running while carrying a pen. It took two days to wash my notes off my leg. Not great for short season, btw. :)