From my newsletter, last weekend:
Because I need to move fast and because I can’t sit outside at bars with my notebook, I’m back to developing straight into Word. This has been my usual function for many years, using either just Word or Notepad .txt files and then into Word.
The trick is never to let yourself believe it is pouring fully formed from your fingers into a submittable file. It’s all roughs. It’s layering. It’s starting with the six lines you had, that you footlishly believe constitute “an idea,” and editing them and adding to them and sculpting them and building on them and then realising it’s shit and saving that version, renaming the file and starting again, going back to where you went wrong and rewriting, until you feel like you have the shape of something that might actually be useful.
On my way to bed Friday night, I stopped and scribbled six words in a notebook. I typed them into a Word file around 11am Saturday morning. It is, as I write this bit, 10.30pm Saturday night. I’ve got around a thousand words, including the precis of the story and the end of the story and six markers staking out everything in the story that happens before the end.
All this is not to say I’m a genius, and it’s possible none of those 1000 will survive the clear light of day tomorrow. It’s to say you can develop processes and functions that get you through a thing with efficiency and pleasure. Everyone develops different ones. For some people, this isn’t even the hard part. For others, having a development function gets them through the tougher part.
It’s all layers. Always rewriting over and through previous sentences and words. Just building it up, coat by coat, until it holds some weight.
You have permission to be complete shit in all but the last layer, and you get to decide which layer is the last.