Writing Tip: Go with the flood

Nov 18, 2013 | Better Writing

Yesterday afternoon I received an email from a client that included following:

“My first attempt at [writing] a chapter came tumbling out like a fast-running stream.  Then it became an ocean as I thought of all these other concepts that needed to be included.”

Sometimes it happens like that. Sometimes the words and concepts come gushing out like a flood. What do you do then? More important, what do you not do?

Don’t try to dam the flood.

Go with the flood. Get the words down as best you can until the flood slows and finally stops.

At that point, you’ll probably feel emotionally spent. That’s because emotion is what causes the flood, powerful thoughts and connections that your mind thinks just have to get out and get out now! The emotion means that there will be good stuff in what you write.

Don’t try to find the good stuff right away. Let your writing sit for a while before you go back to it.

You may find an excellent, coherent piece. It happens, but not often.

More likely you’ll find some things you can use for your original purpose and other things that will be useful elsewhere.

Bottom Line

One of my basic rules is: We can’t deal with it until you get it out.

Corollary number one to that rule is: If it’s flowing fast it’s got lots of emotion and that’s good.