Should Writers Prepare Or Go With The Flow?


“He who is best prepared can best serve his moment of inspiration.”
— Samuel Taylor Coleridge

So there you are. Writing away like there is no tomorrow. Words flying onto the page with what seems like no thought at all. Effortless in their abundance, and so delightful in their haste to get onto the page. Line after line blesses your eye as you look at the length of your work. You smile and feel good that you have finally written today. Deciding to go with the flow like never before. Abundantly writing for hour after hour. Not quite knowing where the words have come from, but so happy to greet them. You feel like a writer at last. That warm and fuzzy feeling is in your stomach and all is well. Your fingers fly across the keyboard with ease and grace. Writing is what you want to do, so today is a good day.

Pausing for coffee and to stretch your legs you look at the leaves on the trees which are turning beautiful shades of red and gold. The air is crisp and the breeze is slight. A calmness falls over you and you pause for thought, resting for just a while.

As you sit back at your desk in that old leather chair, your eyes look at the screen. You check your word count and see how well you have done. Scanning the page briefly you smile and pat yourself on the back for a job well done. Another log on the fire and you are ready to write. Deliciously warm, and raring to go.

Before proceeding to write you read this morning’s words. Only a first draft you know, but you want it to read well still. As your eyes fall on each word you can’t quite believe how it reads. Some parts seem to fit snuggly together like coffee and cream. Smooth and luxurious to the eye. Tantalising your every need with their wonderful demeanour. Decadent and tangible. Just what the reader deserves.

But other parts are like a sour sweet, or milk that has gone off. Rotten to the core despite your best efforts. Tasteless and lacklustre without a cause. Hours spent writing drivel makes you feel so low. Was this a waste of time, or a learning curve?  The answer depends on your mood. Writing is difficult you think. Forgetting all of those luxuriously smooth words you have written. You just see the bad, or the not so good leaping from the page. Battering you on the head abundantly. Thoughts won’t leave you. Should I have prepared more? I thought that going with the flow would let my subconscious thoughts come out onto the page like never before. Perhaps they did?

When the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge said “He who is best prepared can best serve his moment of inspiration.” he may have been right. On the other hand he may have been very wrong.

How can he be both at the same time you might ask? Well it depends on what your outlook is, and also how you work best. Some of us really seem to write much more efficiently by just sitting at the page and writing. Trusting what will appear in front of us and recording it without question. Other writers would be horrified by this. Preferring instead to meticulously plan every last detail before writing anything at all. Headings and sub-headings to help with your thoughts.

Whether you are more a go with the flow type of writer, or one who plans throughout, you have to do what is best for you. Do what helps you to achieve your goals. Find what works and write. For without writing you can’t be a writer, and that is the point. It doesn’t matter whether you plan or not. Who can judge you? Some will. But it is not them who has to actually sit in your chair and write. Not them who has to get the words onto the page with some order.

So be proud of how you write because it is not easy. Allow yourself to be supported and support other writers too. Because we all need it sometimes.

Happy writing!

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