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Spontaneous V. Deliberate

September 22, 2010

(This picture doesn’t really go, but I’m being spontaneous. And oh my god, but I love this picture.)

Coming along at a perfect moment this morning – I was drinking a cup of coffee, reading, and thinking about if or what I might write today – was this comment about spontaneous versus deliberate writing:

Deliberate writing [..] so often ends up dense and ponderous, as we over-pack every word and phrase with so much meaning. Spontaneous writing is what you’re thinking now, it’s immediate and […] takes surprising turns.

Like I said in my first post (waaay back in March 09), this blog, at least in part, is about experimenting with various writing styles. If anything, I tend toward more deliberate and less spontaneous. I tend to over write, which I think is a sign of lack of writing confidence .

It’s funny, after heavy journal writing for about 20 years, followed by nearly 20 years of email, twitter, chat and various other social media platforms, you’d think spontaneity would reign. It does, but when I write for real, it tends toward overworked.

I like technical writing or at least writing technically. I like my writing deliberate, structural and orderly. Not a surprise, I suppose. I tend to be literal, linear, precise, detail and process oriented. I seek clarity in all things. I like to work a piece of writing until I’ve squeezed all the excess juice out of it.

I like to focus for focus’s sake. I’m a person who sorts M&Ms into rows of like colors and arranges the bathroom cabinet by body part. (Is there a therapist in the house?) I see the world in patterns. I like my world tidy, categorized and containerized. I imagine technical writer types are puzzle people, people with OCD tendencies, declutterers, linear thinkers, organizers, planners.

Makes some sense, huh?

I probably missed a bet when choosing careers; I could have written vacuum cleaner manuals.

What seems really liberating, though, is a writing process that is more spontaneous, less intentional, less uptight, less careful. The kind where you open up and let it flow — personal, intimate, authentic, unmeasured. Straight from the heart.

Stepping out – to be spontaneous, uncontrolled, messy, suggestive, seductive, vulnerable – seems hugely challenging. But, hey, maybe I’ll surprise everyone and write a poem. It could happen.

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