If Alfred asked Bruce Wayne, in the movie Batman Begins, “Why do we write?” I am pretty sure, the answer would have been: “So that we can learn to keep our thoughts immortal.”
Writing is a beautiful exercise which encompasses meditation, reflection, interpretation and a host of other things in the mind and the soul. Bringing the tumultuous activities in your mind where millions of neurons are firing every second in every possible direction and way possible, down to coherent and universally legible words, following the rules of grammar, vocabulary and punctuation to convey the exact same matter to some other human being, reading the possibly the piece in the other corner of the world completely detached from your culture, is mind-blowing to me. Thousands of years of literacy of the civilization has evolved our literacy, word bank and power of expression to such a level that we can portray almost anything and everything in the world now.
An interesting thought exercise: How would have people conveyed thoughts to someone if they didn’t have the words for it?
But, all of us are not gifted golden snowflakes of inspiration, adept in making the thoughts come true, dreams becoming reality and characters becoming life-like. No, the majority of us are just mere mortals gawking, grasping, drooling over every morsel we can get from greats like J. R. R. Tolkien, G. R. R. Martin, J. K. Rowling, Stephen King and so on…
Wait, does that mean, we have no hope?
No, sir! We definitely do. The secret is the mundane method of iteration.
The term iteration is defined by Merriam-Webster as:
the action or a process of iterating or repeating: as a : a procedure in which repetition of a sequence of operations yields results successively closer to a desired result
I came across this interesting idea of iterative writing from a remarkable YouTuber, CGPGrey. He makes educational videos on YouTube and does couple of podcasts for a living.
These videos take about 5-6 weeks to make and have over a million views on each!
It is remarkable to note that CGPGrey does not call himself a good writer, instead, he chooses the term competent. He makes about 50-60 drafts before finalizing on one script.
So, let’s delve into the method:
- The first step is write down literally everything that comes to your mind. The best way to do this is start making folders on your PC and collect everything from memes, photos, videos, links of articles, newspaper reports, podcasts related to your topic of interest. Some of these folders can have this gestation period for even years before it actually becomes worthy of notice or serious work. For example, Khalil Gibran wrote his Magnum Opus, the Prophet, a teensy-weensy piece of motivational book, over a period of 6-7 years.
- From here on, the idea moves from a collection of random objects to a serious thought, you start to work on. This transition is just your good old-fashioned gut feeling where you have to decide when to make this leap from the abstract to the concrete. Now you start arranging all the things which only makes sense to you and blabber down a piece of writing which is full of errors and have a meaty potential for rewriting.
- From here on, your journey to ultimate writing salvation begins. Each time you revise, you cut down on all the things you don’t need, you replace the things you think you should, and you keep on morphing the thing you created, till you are actually satisfied by it.
This seems like a worthwhile method to write, when you actually have no idea where to start. Not just informative books, but even for Fiction writing this method could be really useful.
Research is quite important for any sort of fiction – while it is a must for Science Fiction and perhaps, Fantasy, even for Contemperory Romance, it is important in the sense to learn more about the characters, their lifestyles, cultures, slang and what not. Then there is writing several scenes, conversations, plot devices that come into your mind.
Next step is compilation of it all. The last step is common for us all, no matter what the method – to revise, revise and revise – till you achieve the perfect word.
So, do you plan to adopt the iteration method of writing in your next work? Or have you done that before? Do share your thoughts!