Start by Typing Facts

One of the biggest challenges this week was writing a 650-word article based on a 11,000-word interview transcript, and with a quick turnaround.

I didn’t know how to begin so I just started typing facts. Then I walked away, and when I came back, I tried to see how some of the facts could fit together. Then I moved on to something else and when I came back, I tried to see if I could make things flow more smoothly – so that the order made sense and was logical, as if that’d been the way I meant to write it the whole time.

Everything in the interview was interesting – so it wasn’t a matter of picking what was interesting and what wasn’t – but more “what is needed” and “what can be included.” The other part of that was resisting going in a direction I didn’t have space to address. There was one whole section, for example, that was a story on its own. I realized if I tried to touch on that topic with a sentence, it was going to take a whole paragraph or more of context for that sentence to make sense – which was going to throw off the balance. So I resisted.

To me, creativity is about problem solving, about working through puzzles – just figuring it out. You ask, “How’s this going to work?” You find a way to get started, let it rest, make it better, let it rest, and keep at it till you get it done.