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Run Fast, Stand Still

August 16, 2014

I’m in the middle of several books on writing. It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences by June Casagrande about the structure of sentences. A fantastically illustrated book on writing stories called Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer. And Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing, a collection of Bradbury’s essays on the topic. I just came across this great bit in the essay “Run Fast, Stand Still, or, The Thing at the Top of the Stairs, or, New Ghosts from Old Minds.” 

Run fast, stand still. This, the lesson from lizards…What can we writers learn from lizards, lift from birds? In quickness is truth. The faster you blurt, the more swiftly you write, the more honest you are. In hesitation is thought. In delay comes the effort for a style, instead of leaping upon truth which is the only style worth deadfalling or tiger-trapping. 

This reminds me of a talk I attended after a screening of The Social Network several years ago. Trent Reznor, who along with Atticus Finch scored the movie, talked about the importance of energy and momentum in composing. He wanted rapid forward movement, to get as much out and recorded as possible without stopping, knowing there’d be plenty of time to sort and edit later. 

Or, as one of my coworkers has on a framed poster: Write drunk. Edit sober. 

 

 

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