Novelist Poppy Z. Brite has an interesting response to that old writing advice of “vomit-it-on-the-page-and-fix-it-later.” I’ve excerpted some of it:
The thing is, I’m not willing to write badly. I certainly don’t mean that I never have, but I’m not willing to throw clumsily arranged, wrong-feeling words on the page and tell myself I’ll go back and fix it later. Someone said you can’t be afraid of fucking up an entire draft. To this I could only raise my hands in horror—an entire draft? A scene or a chapter, certainly—though I don’t like that either—but if I feel I’ve fucked up an entire draft, I’m very likely not going back in to fix it. This isn’t because I am lazy—though I can be lazy with a vengeance—but because I feel that if the entire draft is a piece of crap, it probably wasn’t a very good idea in the first place.
That basically sums up how I feel. When people ask me for writing advice (which isn’t all that often), I do sometimes suggest the “vomit method,” but that’s only because it’s a good way of getting unblocked, of really letting go and not thinking anymore – which is sometimes necessary in order to allow your unconscious full control over a story. That’s a good thing. But see, I’m a hypocrite – I can’t let myself go quite that far because to look at it afterwards and see a page full of nonsense that isn’t even pretty nonsense would make me depressed.
So what I do is a hybrid. Sort of a “controlled vomit,” or rather, “a focused spew.” If I’m going to blow chunks when I write, then I want to hurl them into a nice little package. Something that is actually usable. Which might not seem remotely possible, but it is – trust me. It’s a fine balance – you need to let go just enough to get those crazy ideas coming up – but keep enough of yourself to actually write them well.
If you want to practice this, try writing a one sentence story. A one page, one sentence story. Keep a bucket nearby. Don’t do this on a full stomach. Ha. Ha. Ha.