Get the Powers to Act from Fresh Ideas

January 17, 2013

How to Write Cheaply in Examinations

Michael Cunningham , winner of  the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1998 for the novel The Hours, gave a lecture during the recent Singapore Writers Festival.

Here are some excerpts:

Every novel I've ever written, at a certain point, falls apart. Just disintegrates before me. Usually before page 100. It becomes clear to me that this is a bad idea, a silly idea ,.. It is for sure, a big, fat mistake.

What I began to realize is this: When a novel just turns to ash in front of you, it is not necessarily revealing its hopeless inadequacies, but defeating the little idea that took you into it and becoming something else.

As a species, we are not exactly smart enough to write novels with our conscious minds alone.We are using our consciousness to tap into our unconsciousness  ...

You have to survive that period as best you can.What's actually happening is that the novel you actually need to write is being born

Writing in Examinations

The novelist writing at leisure can afford to throw away the first 100 pages.

What about the student writing under severe time pressure in an exam situation?

S/he must test-write in mind only, and only in outline form. Such as traditional outlines, mindmapping, free association, or some other personally-tested methods.

The more pressure you feel, the more you need to plan and to plan cheaply.

And like, Cunningham, be open to the emerging new and better essay in you.

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