“Write drunk; edit sober”



This oft-quoted advice is usually attributed to Ernest Hemingway, although verification is illusive. I like the quote, though. I’ve even tried the first part a couple of times out of desperation to get some writing done, hoping a little wine would silence the inner critic that ties me in knots.

Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, after a glass or two of wine, I just tend to fall asleep, which is not very conducive to writing. images

The concept holds true, though. Alcohol tends to make one uninhibited and that is, after all, the best way to write. My favorite way of simulating the “write drunk” credo is to write really fast, outpacing the detractor.

A case in point: When I wrote a memoir piece for an anthology (see Slants of Light), I had to dig deep into an old wound. Three or four ten-minute sprints produced the gist of the story. (I used Shimmering Images by Lisa Dale Norton as my guide.) I won’t say that was the easy part, but once I’d ripped the bandaid off and bled onto the page, I could sit back and see the patterns in the splatter.

A bit dramatic, perhaps, but writing fast enough to drown out the censoring voices works for any kind of writing. It is only when we write without worrying about consequences that we honor our own truth.

But fast, free, unfettered writing is only half the story. Just as imbibing a little fruit of the grape in the evening can bring on a headache in the morning, facing your uncensored scribblings might take some aspirin and a strong cuppa Joe.


Now it’s time to slow down and let the inner critics catch up. No, not the ones who only offer vague, destructive, smart-ass remarks like, “This really sucks” or “Go back to bed; you’ll never be a writer.” But rather the voices–internal and external–that are your allies in the creative process.

To continue with my earlier example, I subjected the same anthology piece to three critique sessions and multiple revisions before I deemed it worthy of publication. Writing “drunk” (or a facsimile thereof) can allow your subconscious to bring forth ideas that might otherwise never see the light. Some clearheaded editing can shape those thoughts into even more powerful prose.

imagesSo that is my creative process. How about you? Do you write a fast first draft, then painstakingly edit? Or do you edit as you go?


Facing Fear

My home page boldly proclaims that my philosophy as a writer is “Just Write.” Don’t listen to that inner editor that puts a choke hold on your voice as you try to write. Well, folks, I have a secret: I’m a fraud. When it comes to writing a simple blog, I am beset with anxiety and insecurity and a powerful urge to run and hide. Is there such a thing as cyber agoraphobia?

John Milton said, “A good book is the precious life blood of a master spirit.” I don’t know that I’m a master spirit, but I do pour myself into my writing. Even a simple blog leaves a pinprick of blood on the page. Which probably explains the fear of sending those pieces of me out into the universe for anyone and everyone to see and judge.

My friend, Myra, always says, “You have to face your fears!”

And so, here goes…I created this website to introduce myself to the world as a writer and to connect with readers and fellow writers. Conventional wisdom says that you have to create a “brand,” but I don’t want to be a brand; I just want to be me.

So I will blog about writing, and teaching, and overeating, and cats. Fears and frustrations; triumphs and truths. And I hope that my words will reach out and strike a spark in you to face your fears and Just Write.

And yet, blogging is so pervasive these days that I wonder if I’m alone in my trepidation. Do you blog? Do you struggle with it as I do, or does it come easily to you?