Robin Queen

Yesterday I went to the Sweetland Writers to Writers event at Literati Bookstore. The speaker at the event was Robin Queen, author and linguistics professor. I found the event very informative as Robin Queen described her new book Vox Popular and her writing process.

The thing that I learned that was most interesting to me personally was regarding Queen’s writing process. It turns out her writing process is not too dissimilar to mine! Queen talked about an app she uses on her computer called Write or Die, which encourages writing by turning the screen red after 20 seconds go by and no words are written on a document. Queen described how after 1 minute the program actually started playing the sound of a baby screaming in order to make the writer put words on the page.

When I write I like to just delve into a stream of consciousness and put as many words on the page, just like Queen (except I don’t have to endure the sound of screaming babies in doing so). It was really cool to see how a real life author uses a similar process and doesn’t just write perfectly on the first attempt. She read through a first draft of a section of her book (and while I found it amazing and worthy of final draft status), it was clear that she liked to get words down and then work and work and draft and draft to perfect those words into her ideal. She explained that her writing process was messy (as she described it “vomiting on the page”) and I feel like mine is as well; it was so encouraging to see that someone who is at the top of the writing game actually writes in the same manner I do (at least process-wise).

She also noted how she has an Internet kill switch on her computer because she cannot be productive when looking at email while writing. This is a strategy I might start using because I feel it could increase my productivity while writing.

Queen’s novel is about linguistics and she detailed how she writes to the ear and not the eye. I found this a fascinating concept because I typically write to the eye and feel like most people do as well. Yet, when I read I sound the words out in my head in my own voice, so maybe it does make more sense to write to the ear and not the eye.

Queen talked about a lot more that I found very interesting, including how her family and childhood have influenced her desires and writing style and how she determines what writing to assign to her students. The event was so interesting, in fact, it might have convinced me to start taking classes in Linguistics.

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