Last week, just as the popcorn finished popping, we sat staring into the abyss. Having gone wild with its new-found freedom, the Right Brain had spewed so much incomprehensible garbage onto the page, it had confused itself.
As we return now to the creative process, the Right Brain is begging the Left Brain to fix this mess, because the Left Brain knows how to do two things the Right Brain cannot do: group related items and arrange those groups in logical order.
Still miffed at being locked out of the process, but relieved to be invited back in, the Left Brain feels compelled to Organize what the Right Brain has randomly thrown down . In a frenzy, it first labels related items “As” and “Bs” and “Cs.” Quickly, it senses the flow of the story. “This comes before this, which comes before that. But before I talk about this thing, I have to establish this other thing.” Feverishly, it then rearranges the “As” and “Bs” and “Cs.” In two minutes, a rough outline emerges. Add that to the four minutes you allowed the Right Brain to wander all over the place, and you’re now six minutes into the process. Already the plot points are becoming clearer.
Referring to your rough outline, now Write for 15 minutes, expounding upon each point, still working from memory, still not stopping to think or pausing to refine. Last RULE: You must go all the way to the end. Although some hastily sketched thoughts naturally develop faster than others, give each a shot. And don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar, or making sense. Taking many light passes is far preferable to wrestling one paragraph to perfection.
At the end of about 21 minutes, that first, gonzo draft has now morphed into a page or two or three of okay stuff, something you can work with, failing and fixing, failing and fixing, as you move forward. Now set it aside to answer emails or race to a meeting. When you sit down with it again for 20 or 30 minutes, you will dumbfound yourself at the brilliance of your third draft. If you have more time, make it perfect; if you don’t, it’s not too bad already. When I write these Tips, I usually knock out eight to ten drafts.
Final Suggestion: Do not consciously edit until you think you have a close-to-ready draft. Then have someone you trust proofread your work. Or use our WordRake editing software to give you the confidence that what you have written is as clear and concise as you can make it. (It won’t slow you down – WordRake edits 10 pages in 30 seconds.)
The 21-Minute Method is a simple way to help you shoe horn a few moments into a hectic day to do something important. It helps us reach that balance between speed and quality. And because you’re dying to know, Yes, the Right Brain and the Left Brain lived happily ever after.