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New Technique: Spinning Down the Page

Crumbly Writer

I've been telling newbie authors this for some time, but I never knew that there was actually a term for it.

The following comes from a Quora article entitled: What's the best writing advice you can give?

What is your best writing tip?

It's a technique called "spinning down the page".

You can study all the writing tips and techniques you like and you'll probably find that some work for you and some don't. But no matter how you write, you will have occasional periods (maybe very rare) where it just seems to flow.

When that happens, let it!

Type or write as fast as your brain will let your hands go. Don't stop!

Don't spell-check. Don't worry about the grammar. Let every typo stand. Forget most of the punctuation for now.

Just get it down. Somehow. Anyhow!

The flow will stop eventually, but if you're lucky, you may get a couple of pages done. And when it does stop, then you can go back and fix everything.

But don't let the fixing interrupt the creativity. Spin down the page.

robberhands

@Crumbly Writer

That's what I always do when writing. Maybe I should also mention, that the later corrections need ten times the time of the initial writing. So I'm not sure if it's timewise really more efficient, but that's not the point of the article.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Spin down the page


I never knew that had a name.

Replies:   Joe Long  Not_a_ID  REP
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@robberhands


So I'm not sure if it's timewise really more efficient,


It has nothing to do with efficiency. It has to do with letting your creative side do it's thing.

ETA: It's also one of those times to tell rather than show. Typically when you're writing like that, you tell more. Then you can go back and change it to showing.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@robberhands

Maybe I should also mention, that the later corrections need ten times the time of the initial writing. So I'm not sure if it's timewise really more efficient, but that's not the point of the article.

The key is, when the writing is flowing, you write, hell bent on grinding out as much as you can. When the flow slows, you switch to editing. If the flow stops indefinitely, you examine the story to identify where you went wrong.

But that's largely been my aim whenever I write, as I'll lock myself away and just write and write until I finish the entire first draft (switching between writing and editing as described), before I begin my revisions of the entire book, cleaning it all up, adapting the story to anything new added since I started, expanding certain scenes—as appropriate—and adding the few actual character or scene descriptions.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

It has nothing to do with efficiency. It has to do with letting your creative side do it's thing.

The theory behind it is that you write out of two separate hemispheres of your brain, the analytic, and the emotional side. Thus you write, spinning down the page, purely from the emotional side, not allowing your inner editor to step on your vision. Then, when you go back, you give the analytic inner (as opposed to external) editor a chance to do it's thing.

However, the one often inhibits the other. So when you do both, you end up with less creative writing (i.e. it doesn't flow as smoothly), and when you edit, you're not as efficient (i.e. it takes you much longer). By separating them, you're theoretically doing both more efficiently, getting the words out and then cleaning them up without getting tripped up by your imagination.

Ernest Bywater

I've never heard it called that before, usually it's referred to as a flow of consciousness writing.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer  Not_a_ID
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

I've never heard it called that before, usually it's referred to as a flow of consciousness writing.

I'd actually heard the term used before, but never remembered it, as most times, you hear an author talking about the importance of writing unimpeded by thinking about what proper, fitting or correct.

Still, it's nice using a name for it—mostly so those you talk to can look it up once you walk away.

Bondi Beach

@Crumbly Writer

Type or write as fast as your brain will let your hands go. Don't stop!

Don't spell-check. Don't worry about the grammar. Let every typo stand. Forget most of the punctuation for now.

Just get it down. Somehow. Anyhow!


The National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) folks preach this as Rule No. 1. I've used it to produce five "novels" in the last seven years.

What I have at the end of November is 50,000+ words of bilge, to be polite about it. But with a little filtering there's something there to work with.

bb

Joe Long

@Switch Blayde

I never knew that had a name.


Writing drunk.

Vomiting the words.

The hardest part is turning off the internal editor. I can also have anxiety issues the more perfect the result is expected to be. The easiest tactic for me is to pretend I'm writing an email. Just let it rip.

Switch Blayde

@Joe Long

The easiest tactic for me is to pretend I'm writing an email. Just let it rip.


I can't even write an email that way. I'm constantly editing it.

Replies:   Joe Long  Ross at Play
Joe Long

@Switch Blayde

I can't even write an email that way. I'm constantly editing it.


I've gotten comfortable with a minimal amount of editing in writing on forums and emails. I try to treat it as extemporaneous. (I've made edits and words changes in just that paragraph.)

Sometimes scenes that I've outlined start playing out in my head and I just start writing before I forget the good stuff. Many times, however, I've played them out dozen of times as I shower, drive or walk around, trying to work out all the logic so that each statement and event leads into the next.

Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

Approach #1 - I pretend I'm writing an email. Just let it rip.
Approach #2 - I can't even write an email that way. I'm constantly editing it.

Any guesses which approach results in more divorces, sackings, suicides, and murders?

Replies:   Joe Long
Joe Long

@Ross at Play

Any guesses which approach results in more divorces, sackings, suicides, and murders?


I'm still on my first wife and haven't been sacked since before then.

Replies:   Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach

@Joe Long

I'm still on my first wife and haven't been sacked since before then.


A probationer employee I fired complained she'd never find another job. Speaking from personal experience I told her if no one who'd been fired ever worked again, very few folks would have a job.

bb

Not_a_ID

@Switch Blayde

I never knew that had a name.


I usually called that "stream on consciousness/thought" as the whim struck me. I know others who'd call it "brain spew."

Whatever label you give it, the primary directive is simple: Write first! Edit Later.

Not_a_ID

@Ernest Bywater

I've never heard it called that before, usually it's referred to as a flow of consciousness writing.


Yeah, that's probably closer to the term I picked up in one of my English classes at one point or another. Stream/Flow being nearly synonyms in that context anyhow, and that's even before going all trendy hipster on things where "streaming content" is a thing now.

Crumbly Writer

@Joe Long

The easiest tactic for me is to pretend I'm writing an email. Just let it rip.

Or a forum post. 'D

Replies:   Joe Long  Not_a_ID
Joe Long

@Crumbly Writer

Or a forum post. 'D


Same difference!

Not_a_ID

@Crumbly Writer

Or a forum post. 'D


Or farts, just hope that they aren't sharts.

REP

@Switch Blayde

I never knew that had a name.

It sounds like a name someone made up just to give it a name. I think of it as a creative data dump.

Replies:   Joe Long
Joe Long

@REP

I think of it as a creative data dump.


Not really. It's a first draft, to be edited later with all the final word choices, beats, etc. Just a method of getting it out of one's head and into words.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Joe Long

Not really. It's a first draft, to be edited later with all the final word choices, beats, etc. Just a method of getting it out of one's head and into words.

It's mostly capitalizing on bursts of creativity. You know it won't last, so the idea is to not waste it by obsessing over details, but to get as much written, creatively, as you can. You can always edit, whether you're feeling creative or not.

Replies:   StarFleet Carl  Joe Long
Crumbly Writer

Getting back to the idea of writing techniques depending on the underlying story, years ago, when I wrote Stranded in a Foreign Land, I discovered a wonderful technique. I spent time developing the characters before the story started, and then I used each character's differing motivations as an underlying conflict between the protagonists. Any time the story would slow, discussing details or how things came to be, the underlying tensions make the discussions pop out.

I had great plans to use that successful technique in all my future stories, but it never worked out. Since that day, I have yet to find another story that technique is suited for.

It reinforces the concept of recognizing techniques, so when the opportunity arises, you can act on it and exploit it to it's full potential.

robberhands

@Crumbly Writer

Getting back to the idea of writing techniques depending on the underlying story, years ago, when I wrote Stranded in a Foreign Land, I discovered a wonderful technique.

I try to keep any techniques as far away from my imagination as possible.

StarFleet Carl

@Crumbly Writer

It's mostly capitalizing on bursts of creativity.


I understand and even agree with the concept. The problem with it is for those of us who have full time jobs. Sometimes I have five minutes available to write, sometimes I have three hours. Rarely do I have a full day. But I also have one of those oddball brains that I can't shut off both sides.

Replies:   Joe Long  Crumbly Writer
Joe Long

@Crumbly Writer

It's mostly capitalizing on bursts of creativity. You know it won't last, so the idea is to not waste it by obsessing over details, but to get as much written, creatively, as you can. You can always edit, whether you're feeling creative or not.


100% concur.

There are also times when I have had a future scene playing repeatedly in my head and I want to get it into words so I can clear out the mental space.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Joe Long

@Crumbly Writer

I discovered a wonderful technique. I spent time developing the characters before the story started, and then I used each character's differing motivations as an underlying conflict between the protagonists.

I had great plans to use that successful technique in all my future stories, but it never worked out. Since that day, I have yet to find another story that technique is suited for.


I believe this is the right way to go. Start with the antagonist. What's the problem to be overcome? Develop a protagonist, his normal life, how everything changes and the choices he has to make. Soon you have a general outline containing all the plot points. Having that, flesh out the characters, such as back story, temperment and motivations. Then start writing.

I've learned a lot at K.M. Weiland's writing blog "Turning Writers Into Authors" She published How To Outline Your Novel and now has adapted it into software. (Full disclosure - I was a beta tester)

Joe Long

@StarFleet Carl

The problem with it is for those of us who have full time jobs. Sometimes I have five minutes available to write, sometimes I have three hours. Rarely do I have a full day. But I also have one of those oddball brains that I can't shut off both sides.


I have my day job and my work from home job. Writing is #3 at best. When I'm at work or home, I keep Wordpad open and if inspiration strikes, or the characters decide to act out a scene in my head, I have the opportunity to jot something down.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Bondi Beach
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


I spent time developing the characters before the story started, and then I used each character's differing motivations as an underlying conflict between the protagonists.


It worked for me once; other times when I've tried it I get bored. The one time it worked I was stuck on the character so I decided to write her biography for her life after the events of the story. It worked to give me a sort of "what happened to her" closing.

bb

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@StarFleet Carl

But I also have one of those oddball brains that I can't shut off both sides.

I'm not sure that any of us can shut off both sides. If you did, you wouldn't think at all. 'D

Replies:   StarFleet Carl
Crumbly Writer

@Joe Long

There are also times when I have had a future scene playing repeatedly in my head and I want to get it into words so I can clear out the mental space.

I often go to bed, and plot out the next chapter in my head for the next morning. However, I'll often get so excited about the prospects that I can't sleep. In those cases, I'll get up, write down just enough to satisfy myself, and then I can return to bed and sleep assuming I can finish off the rest in the morning. However, my muses are harsh task-masters, and sometimes they won't allow me to sleep at all!

Replies:   Joe Long
Crumbly Writer

@Joe Long

I have my day job and my work from home job. Writing is #3 at best. When I'm at work or home, I keep Wordpad open and if inspiration strikes, or the characters decide to act out a scene in my head, I have the opportunity to jot something down.

That's a sensible compromise, and you've got your feet in the world of writing, learning techniques (like these) along the way. When you retire in a few years (?), I'll look forward to the works you can produce as a full-time author (who earns virtually nothing, like the rest of us).

In my case, I'm disabled. I'm hardly rich, but I'm comfortable and have plenty of time available, and writing give structure to my life. If I wasn't writing, I'd probably watch TV all day.

Replies:   Ross at Play  Joe Long
Crumbly Writer

@Bondi Beach

It worked for me once; other times when I've tried it I get bored. The one time it worked I was stuck on the character so I decided to write her biography for her life after the events of the story. It worked to give me a sort of "what happened to her" closing.

The times it didn't work for me (fleshing out everyone's competing motivations), the story essentially requires either than one person lead the others, or for everyone to have the same motivation. What's more, the time you spend developing the characters (before you get into the story itself), is likely to cost you readers who get bored with the lack of plot advancements, since they can't see the benefit in learning about secondary characters immediately.

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

If I wasn't writing, I'd probably watch TV all day.

Before I found writing, or editing as it turned out for me, I had gathered a collection of about 8Tb of TV shows, many of which it's certain nobody will ever watch.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

the time you spend developing the characters (before you get into the story itself), is likely to cost you readers who get bored with the lack of plot advancements

I have seen suggestions, which made sense to me, that authors prepare backstories for major characters before starting to write, not intending that they will ever include such details in the story, but because, before starting to write the story, they develop a more fully-formed picture in their minds of their characters - including personalities, motivations, and characteristic voices.

Bondi Beach's idea about writing "epilogues" seems like a reasonable subset of that.

Either seems like a reasonable thing to try if experiencing writer's block - as a tool to restart the getting creative ideas into words without blockages due to any tendency to self-censorship or over-analysis of words that might end up forming the basis of what does get into the story.

Bondi Beach

@Crumbly Writer

What's more, the time you spend developing the characters (before you get into the story itself), is likely to cost you readers who get bored with the lack of plot advancements, since they can't see the benefit in learning about secondary characters immediately.


Right. I used it for my own notes, not in the story itself.

bb

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Bondi Beach

I used it for my own notes, not in the story itself.

Ah! Great minds muse alike. :-)

Joe Long

@Crumbly Writer

I often go to bed, and plot out the next chapter in my head for the next morning. However, I'll often get so excited about the prospects that I can't sleep. In those cases, I'll get up, write down just enough to satisfy myself, and then I can return to bed and sleep assuming I can finish off the rest in the morning. However, my muses are harsh task-masters, and sometimes they won't allow me to sleep at all!


Sounds quite familiar

Joe Long
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


That's a sensible compromise, and you've got your feet in the world of writing, learning techniques (like these) along the way. When you retire in a few years (?), I'll look forward to the works you can produce as a full-time author (who earns virtually nothing, like the rest of us).


Well, thank you. I've got a handful of years left in my day job, but my consulting gig at home should be something I can do until they bury me. It requires occasionally sitting in front of the computer. Might as well get paid for it.

StarFleet Carl

@Crumbly Writer

I'm not sure that any of us can shut off both sides. If you did, you wouldn't think at all.


Like a Democrat?

What I meant by my comment was that even when I've been drinking my usual so that I can finally go to sleep - other than being just a bit more obnoxious in my posts, I will still see and correct typo's as I'm writing.

I know the 'kids' call it keyboarding today. 40 years ago, it was touch typing and I could do 60 wpm on an IBM Selectric. My typewriter through college was a Smith Corona with cartridges, so I could type away, and when I saw a typo, I'd switch to the FUJ cartridge to take care of that mistake. (FUJ - Fuck Up Juice - aka the White Out Cartridge.)

Ross at Play

@StarFleet Carl

even when I've been drinking my usual so that I can finally go to sleep - other than being just a bit more obnoxious in my posts

Count your blessings. Aren't you all so very grateful I don't drink anymore to get to sleep?

Crumbly Writer

@StarFleet Carl

I know the 'kids' call it keyboarding today. 40 years ago, it was touch typing and I could do 60 wpm on an IBM Selectric. My typewriter through college was a Smith Corona with cartridges, so I could type away, and when I saw a typo, I'd switch to the FUJ cartridge to take care of that mistake. (FUJ - Fuck Up Juice - aka the White Out Cartridge.)

My brother, after being tossed out of the military, survived by working in Manhattan as a typist, typing 50 words a minute. I was impressed, despite working in Manhattan myself. Recently (about 20 years back) I was finally tested for my typing skills, and I type at over 200 wpm! And that's where they track and account of mistakes, reducing your score based on how many typos you make.

Apparently those 'touch typing' classes are better than the modern 'keyboarding' ones. 'D

I also studies speed reading, and could read at over 700 - 1,200 wpm, but since I started editing (and had to slow down when reading my own stories to catch my own mistakes) I'm MUCH slower reading now!

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