I don’t have time to write. So I jot words on the phone in the spare seconds scattered across the day. I call it Nibble Writing. It’s a life hack typical of the time starved. Not a saviour of writing dreams squeezed off the clock by the practical demands of staying alive.
Nibble Writing can happen anywhere. In a food court line. In the dead space before appointments. While squeezing out a sausage in the latrine. All time to peck out a sentence. Or to chop up a long one. Nibble Writing has kept this blog going since 2007.
Writing a few minutes or even seconds at a time is harsh ”writing climate”. Every harsh climate moulds those who survive and even thrive in it. Thus Nibble Writing has consequences. It impacts the what (ideas) and the how (structure, voice) of your writing.
As a result Nibble Writing pushes a narrow type of subject matter. It ends up being a narration of a situation or a recollection of an event. The resulting story becomes a frame for ideas and views of life and its banal ironic brutalities.
It’s an approach buzzing with easy temptations. The urge to overuse clever sounding, ‘funny’, arty sentences is a big one. Giving in to them leads to slop of easy generalisations and lazy conclusions. Fending off such cravings is part of the toil.
Nibble Writing makes getting words down easy. It gives you a nudist’s lack of inhibitions. Jotting on a phone avoids the intimidating formal glare of the blank Word document. Letting thoughts plop out as words. Before the inhibiting claw of the conscious self can snatch them back.
The resulting word flood makes it hard to keep track of what you are saying. Try telling a story amidst constant interruptions. The sensation is the same. I spend half my writing time slots getting my bearings. Writing this post is typical of the experience.
The result is repetition of the same points in different ways. Making it difficult to write anything beyond a simple SHORT narrative. The reason is that I have no idea what I’m writing about when I start.
Professional writers start with structured ideas. My writing begins with a stray thought. It starts buzzing around in my head. I bang it out in a few sentences with the silly hope of plugging the flow. Instead each sentence births the next. It’s infuriating and exhilarating. All my blog posts were born that way. My about page has a short overview of the experience.
Overcoming these cons takes time and effort. Often nibbling away on anything over 200–300 words for months. There are at least 2 posts still in draft mode for over 2–3 years!
So I’ve evolved a few Nibble Writing practices over the centuries. They keep what’s left of my sanity intact.