V = Vacant Writing

Sometimes we sit down at our computers and have the most amazing moments of flow. These are those moments when the words practically write themselves and story unfolds before you. Other times we might struggle for every word, barely making headway, but feeling like we were at least true to the story with what we wrote that day.

And then sometimes we have bouts of what I like to call vacant writing.

Vacant writing is that state in which you chug along, putting words on paper without really being cognizant of what those words are. Sometimes when you go back and reread what you’ve written, you may find yourself shaking your head and saying, “What? Where did that come from?”

I think vacant writing can be a great tool in the first draft. Especially if you’re feeling stuck or not sure where your story is going next. Sometimes just writing anything can feel like a struggle. By allowing yourself to spit out whatever words come to mind and ignoring that darn inner voice that’s telling you that what you’re writing is crap, you can actually achieve that state of flow.

Vacant writing can even help you fine tune your characters. By allowing everything onto the page, you might discover a character trait or even a character phrase that you might have otherwise missed.

Many times vacant writing takes the guise of “filler” or sometimes even shows up in a manuscript as the first few pages when the writer is trying to find their flow or get a handle on the story.

The thing about vacant writing is learning to recognize it in the second draft and removing it during this phase of the manuscript.

What do you think? Do you find yourself using vacant writing to get to the core of a character or find the plot of your story?


5 thoughts on “V = Vacant Writing

  1. Oh, yeah! Sometimes the only way forward is to write dreck. Eventually I figure out where I’m going and can move forward, and part of the duty of the editing period is to find and fix the dreck 🙂

    Rebecca at The Ninja Librarian

  2. I usually just give myself time. If I can’t figure out where to go next, writing more won’t help, because it just turns into wasted time where I have to go back and delete what I’d written. When I sense that something’s off, I stop and regroup. (But then, I’m not on the first draft, but on draft twenty-something, and I’m trying to fine tune it to its finished product.)

  3. LOL–I’m writing about moving servers right now. Yes, moving servers. It’s for a client who wants 32 pages written about moving servers and computers…same topic, 32 different ways. So, yeah, LOTS of vacant writing. Lots of procrastination, too. (Not to mention a little wine at the end of the day. Sigh.)


  4. Yes, writing free flow and not editing, basically just letting the character take over works for discovery. I hand write everything. Figured out my right brain works best with writing longhand. The minute I sit down at the computer, left brain takes over and starts editing and censoring.

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