two ghosts in the words
or The Pen of Good and Evil
One of the things that greatest impacted my writing process as a young lad was a scene from the movie Finding Forrester. Sean Connery, the wise, ancient writer, says to the young, intrepid Rob Brown, “No thinking – that comes later. You must write your first draft with your heart. You rewrite with your head. The first key to writing is… to write, not to think!”
Thank you, IMDB for that direct quote.
So write first with your heart, then with your head. For me that means that my first draft is often a jumble of confusing ideas and disconnected prose that only makes sense to me. Sometimes this draft never even makes it to paper but just wanders around my mind until it gets filtered through my fingers into the keyboard. When it makes its first appearance on screen, it ends up making a lot more sense because it is actually a second draft.
My heart tends to come up with these crazy fun ideas that my head could never fathom as much as it may try to put its mind to it. Sometimes when I’m rewriting with my head, I’m thinking, Jesus, who IS this person that wrote this?!
They’re almost two separate people. Or maybe the process just switches from the right brain to the left brain, but those two brain neighborhoods are complete strangers.
The right brain (heart) comes up with a lot of great stuff – in fact, if you’ve ever read anything that I’ve written and liked it, it’s definitely that guy. The problem is that it also comes up with equal amounts of complete mushy, useless garbage.
Fortunately, the left brain (head) is pretty good at distinguishing the parts that might be decently-put and perhaps-interesting-to-other-people from the parts that should be taken out and shot. If you’ve ever read anything that I’ve written and thought That Sucks, it’s because this guy is still learning how to do his job well.
Sometimes I put him down for a nap and go do or watch something completely mindless for a long, long while while he closes his little eyes and sucks on his little thumb. (Monster vs. Aliens or Machete Kills are great for knocking him right out quickly.) Then when I wake him back up and put him back to work, he tends to be a lot more snobby, finicky, and sharp – which is great for him, in fact, the whole point of why I keep him around.
My point with all this may come out of nowhere, then: If you always speak correctly with perfect verb tense agreements, complete sentences, and no dangling participles, it means you’re speaking with your head and not using enough heart. Those among us who are grammar Nazis use far too much energy to decipher between ‘me’ and ‘I,’ which makes what they say technically spic and span but actually really, really boring.
I would almost say that the more correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling you use in off the cuff remarks, the less insightful, intelligent, and interesting those remarks will end up being. -Also the less ‘you.’Unless, of course, you’ve practiced beforehand, which takes the off-the-cuffness right out and puts them squarely on the cuff.
Think about it.