Writing With Silvia Hartmann
Don't Frankenstein -
Write It Again, Sam!
I am a professional author, and I do a lot of writing. A LOT of writing. I
can type fast and my thoughts flow smoothly; I try and express these thoughts as
best I can on virtual paper and thus, I create stories and articles, poems,
papers, essays and many, many books.
The other day I was talking to another author who complained that they
weren't as prolific as me; that they didn't have a quarter of the articles out
there, not a tenth of my books, and they said that I must have some sort of a
sneaky trick, magic perhaps, to assemble so much material when they were
spending even more time in front of their computers than I did.
So how is that possible?
How can this other author spend MORE time on their writing than I do, and yet
they end up with less than half of the finished products?
We discussed our strategies for writing and one fascinating yet vital
That difference was that these days, I virtually never "frankenstein".
- To frankenstein (v) - The act of putting together parts from
different donors with the purpose of creating something new and original,
which is structurally doomed to failure.
Frankensteining To Save Time ...?
When we discussed how our TIME is actually spent, mine was spent in WRITING
to over 80% of any one given hour in the day. The other 20% would be editing,
formatting and submitting.
The other author was spending LESS THAN 20% of THEIR time on actual writing
NEW words, sentences, paragraphs, articles - they spent the vast and
overwhelming majority of time on:
1. Trying to find something they'd already written on their many harddrives,
discs and machines;
2. Trying to frankenstein bits from older pieces of writings into a new one
by editing the bits, trying to write bridges and generally re-formatting all of
these old and different parts into some useful end result.
The reason the author cited for doing this was that they were *trying to save
Write It AGAIN, Sam!
I was astonished by this - because what I do is to subscribe to the "write it
again, Sam!" principle.
If I can't find something, I won't spend more than two minutes searching for
it. I too have too many discs, computers, harddrives, network servers and too
many years of data for this to be of any great use any longer in searching for
"half finished bits" I might have saved at any old time, under any old file
I just write it AGAIN, from scratch, brand new, one more time, and especially
FOR whatever I need it for.
I must have written essentially THE SAME article on the principles of energy
healing two dozen times or more by now!
But the thing is, it is NOT the same article.
There's always a REASON for any one given article, a recipient such as a
magazine, ezine or web site; a specific audience; a time and a place; and
of course, there's my own changing moods and states of play.
So someone asks me for an energy healing introduction for their ezine,
nowadays I don't think to even START searching for an old one that "might fit
the bill" (but usually doesn't, not really and not PERFECTLY!, no matter how
much time is spent editing and re-editing), I just write one on the spot for
that ezine that is exactly right and does the trick in all ways, that's up to
date, lively, ALIVE (aha! that Frankenstein thing again!) and flows the way I
want it to, right now.
Now I admit, the practice of "writing it AGAIN" came into being because my
work used to be so helplessly disorganised in electronic form, here, there and
everywhere, and also, because I am the survivor of many an unexpected harddrive
crash and just HAD to write things again from scratch if I wanted them to
continue as an existence at all.
Nowadays, I'm far more careful with my backups and with my data filing
systems; and I actually now COULD find things again that I have already written.
But frankly, the REWARDS of writing fresh and new each and every time are
just way too good!
I write more.
I write faster.
I get to practice explaining the same thing or telling the same story many
times; and it does get better with practice and the feedback one receives.
Writing becomes a FLOW that is just always there, and I can use this flow to
create something new and fresh whenever I need it.
And that's why I now have dozens of complete and energetically cohesive
articles under the "energy healing" section, with more joining them all the
time, when the other author has just a single one, which is always the same,
frozen in time, and getting less cohesive, less alive with every edit pass, with
every surgery performed upon it to try and make it fit somewhere else, somehow.
I reckon what I have learned at the baseline from all of that is that
although I like my words and my writing, these things aren't in and of
themselves overly precious; and as long as I still have a mind left to think,
and ten good fingers to type, there will always be MORE - there's no need to go
back and break the flow of thought and idea, of picture and emotion, of the
moment and of speaking one's mind.
And even though I will admit that I am sometimes very pleased with something
I've written, a neat turn of phrase or an idea well expressed, this flow
movement carries within it the fascination of what there might be NEXT time -
what else I might come up with that I've never thought before, never written
That's the REAL PRIZE in the flow system - not the time saved, not the extra
volume of cohesive work, not the practice and improvement all of that brings -
the real prize is the unknown future and the words which are yet to be spoken.
That's what makes me nod and say, "Yes, it's right."
If in doubt - don't frankenstein.
Write it again, Sam ...
© Silvia Hartmann 2005