I change my mind often about how the creative process works, but today I’m convinced that the best way to get good at something is to stop thinking about it. At least that’s how it works for me.
Take Guitar Hero, for example. After spending way too many hours trying to beat my son’s top scores, I’ve realized that I do best when I’m not thinking about how good (or bad) I’m doing. Isn’t golf the same way? As soon as you start thinking about your shoulders, wrists, back, hips... You get the idea. Over-thinking ruins lots of things.
For me, one of those things is first draft writing. For the most part, I’m a seat of the pants writer. I almost always start with an idea but not an outline. If I try to outline, I over think the story and ruin all the fun. The characters' fun that is. My hero and heroine end up standing around, staring at me, waiting for me to come up with something for them to do. To get anything good, I have to dive right in and start writing.
I know a lot of great writers who produce wonderful detailed outlines and character sketches, and I envy them. They look so organized and together. So professional.
Don’t get me wrong, I do nit-pick and analyze character goals, motivations, and the conflict. But I do that after I’ve gotten about 1/3 of the way into the story. It isn’t an easy or pretty way to write. There are times when I can relate to Jack Nicolson’s character in The Shinning. But I have a way better solution to my stress.
** In case you don’t have kids, or aren’t a kid yourself, Guitar Hero is a PS2 game that involves using a plastic guitar to play rock songs. When you’re doing well, you feel like a rock star, but you’re stinking, you feel like – well - like you stink.