Writing Process: The Three Ps of Glumping

Over the last week, I've been revisiting the writer's process.  (You can get caught up on the other posts here and here.)  As promised, today's post begins a look at each step of the process. 

And so today we talk about the fine and wonderful art of glumping. Note_creative_author_260972_l

Glumping is a word that I've always used for the magical process of spewing words onto the page in your first, or discovery draft.  (Don't know where I came up with this word, to be honest.  I thought it was a made-up word I picked up somewhere along the line, but dictionary.com defines glump: to manifest sulleness, to sulk.  Which is what happens to writers when they don't write.)

For many people, this step engenders the magic of writing, the truly creative time when ideas fly and words combine in fabulous ways.  (For others, rewriting is when the deeply satisfying work begins, but we'll get to that in the next post.)The most important thing to remember about glumping is this: just do it.  The act of getting words onto the page in a first draft really boils down to picking up your pen and writing, or turning on the computer and pounding away on the keys.

So simple and yet so difficult.

Because sometimes it is damned hard to glump. 

If you find that to be the case, remember the three Ps of glumping:

1. Prepare.  Glumping will go much easier if you ponder your project ahead of time.  (Okay, I'll quit with the ps now, I promise. Oops, sorry.) If you're writing a novel, make character dossiers, a loose outline of the plot, write descriptions of locations, and so on.  For non-fiction, a list of points you want to follow. Anything that will help seed thoughts for writing. 

2. Prompt.  Oh, the poor, maligned prompt.  People love to sneer at these clever sentences, when really, all they want to do is help you get your writing going.  If you're staring a blank page or computer screen without a clue what to write, they can be a lifesaver.   Use them as a way to get words flowing.  I recommend keeping a list handy in your journal or writing notebook and pick one at random ( do not stop to make value judgments about which prompt you want to use–just choose one).  Then write.  The first few sentences may be totally off topic, but soon you'll settle back into your draft.

3. Practice.  As in, practice makes perfect.  Because, it does.  The more you write, the easier it gets.  When you spend more time working other aspects of the writing process, like rewriting, returning to glumping feels strange and out of control.  But soon it will become second nature again.  That is, if you practice regularly.

So there you have it, the three Ps of glumping.  How do you glump (or should I even ask, that sounds vaguely obscene)? What are your expriences with the writing process?


 Photo by christgr, from Everystockphoto.


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8 Responses to Writing Process: The Three Ps of Glumping

  1. Sarah Allen 02/09/2011 at 09:04 #

    This is so great! I’m working on my first draft of my first novel, and this advice is incredibly helpful. These are great ways to get the glumping going :) I will say I think there are certain things you can’t learn about writing a novel until you start writing a novel, at least thats how its been for me. Thank you for this advice!

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

  2. Charlotte Dixon 02/09/2011 at 09:19 #

    So true, Sarah, you learn so much in the actual process of writing. Glad the information was helpful, and keep going on that first draft!

  3. Artistsroad.wordpress.com 02/09/2011 at 13:35 #

    What a great post, Charlotte! I didn’t have the warmest reaction to your word “glumping,” but my first drafts often are glum and lumpy, so I’ll run with your coinage!

  4. Charlotte Dixon 02/09/2011 at 14:23 #

    Susan, I think that must be where I got the word from–the way it feels putting words onto the page in a rough draft!

    Patrick, At least its better than “verbal vomit.” I like “glum and lumpy” very much!

    Thanks to both of you for dropping by.

  5. Susan 02/09/2011 at 11:30 #

    Glumping, that sounds like how I feel when I first start to write on my blog.
    Fortunately, after the first draft, I can pull all of the ideas together.
    Thanks for your insights.

  6. J.D. Frost 02/09/2011 at 19:07 #

    This is good stuff, Charlotte. I knew something good was coming my way today. My horoscope said as much—in some city. By the way, I’m a child of Virgo, the queen of waterboarding.

  7. Maryse 02/10/2011 at 05:31 #

    At least it’s glumping, not gRumping!! I’m finally getting to enjoy the writing process: that wave of words that comes from nowhere and then the re-working and careful sculpting of the piece. I find that preparing does not work for me before the first discover draft. It needs to come out as is. And then, only then does the planning/structuring part. Do you feel that way sometimes?

  8. Charlotte Dixon 02/10/2011 at 09:50 #

    J.D., thanks and for some reason I never would have pegged you as a Virgo. I like Virgos, my sister and one of my closest friends are both Virgos.

    Maryse, I mostly use the preparing phase if its a longer work. For shorter pieces, it works well if I jump right in and then a structure begins to show itself. Thanks for making me think deeper about it!

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