I watched an interview with one of my favorite writers, Neil Strauss, the other day, and he spoke about how the first draft should be a complete brain dump with the main goal being to spill everything out on the page. Profanity. Unfinished sentences. Blood. Coffee stains. Vomit. Everything.
Hearing this made sense, and has helped my writing immensely. Something was missing, though. The brain dump is, most definitely, a very important step in the writing process, and needs to be done before the final draft…
BUT.. What I’ve found is that if the FIRST thing I do is brain dump, I have a huge, discombobulated, convoluted mess on the page. My brain will go off in every direction and what I’m left with is unfocused chaos.
Neil Strauss is one of the best writers, ever, so his thinking is far ahead of most of ours. Allow me to dumb it down a notch and throw my two cents in about the beginning step.
For us lesser beings, before the brain dump begins, there must be a structure. A trough, if you will, to throw the dumpage into, else it will just be spread out all over the floor, flowing into various other rooms and out onto the street.
So.. I highly recommend starting with a one-sentence message of what you’re trying to write. Nothing fancy. Simple. Plain.
Then, you can write out several other boring, simple, direct sub-messages from that main one.
You’ll then be left with a 5 or 6 sentence ‘list’ or outline of what you’re going to write about. Now you have a structure and your mind can easily dump within the boundaries of the topics and ideas that are pertinent to your message.
- Kettlebells are the best way to work out.
- Freeweights are expensive and require a lot of room.
- Kettlebells are convenient and easy to store.
- Freeweights are a pain in the ass and require a whole room of space.
- Kettlebells use your whole body and require more realistic movements, unlike freeweights, which use isolated and restricted movements. How often do you pick something up using just your bicep?
- Kettlebells provide a great cardio workout.
- Kettlebells are great for your core.
- Russians are bad ass.
There you have it. A brief message to stick to and a few ideas within that message which you can now expand on.
Now you can braindump. After a good, solid, braindump, you can then cut the fat and refine the piece. Keep the dumpage confined and you’ll save yourself a lot of time and your readers a lot of confusion.