Home > Inspiration > Should I “waste” my time on experimental writing?

Should I “waste” my time on experimental writing?

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Yes! Okay, so you can see I’ve already made my mind up. Maybe you want a little more though? Fine, come on in!

Not enough hours in the day

There really isn’t is there? I struggle to get projects finished and here I am thinking of something wacky (but kinda cool) that couldn’t possibly make it onto a bookshelf. Despite this I’ve decided to go ahead with it anyway, and although I’m not completely neglecting the other project I’ve got on the go, it’s fair to say that time has been taken away.

A preview of my experiment (that shows you nothing useful)

A welcome distraction

But what can I say? I’m a sucker for a funky writing idea (I wish I was even remotely capable of doing this), and at least this one is brief, and not an all-consuming über project.

But it is a distraction. How do I justify it?

  • It’s fun. Yay, happy play time!
  • It’s a new set of challenges. Although I believe any writing will improve your writing, it’s sometimes fun to look at something from a different angle and get different parts of your writing mind working.
  • A change is as good as a rest. And sometimes you need a rest. A change of writing scenery can help you recharge your batteries.

How much is too much?

So you can see I don’t mind wandering off the path every now and again, if the project is exciting and brief enough. But it does rather pose the question, where do you draw the line?

I can’t really answer that. I can tell you where I think it is for me, but it might be different for you. How much do you want to have your “normal” book published? How much do you like experimental projects? Maybe you live for them!

As for myself, I’m making sure I still work on my other piece, even if time on it is reduced. I want to avoid that temptation of putting it away and working on something else proper. And like I said, this is a brief experiment. If after a couple of weeks I haven’t finished it, I’m just going to drop it – it’s not that important to me.

Have you got any writing experiments you’re particularly proud of? Is it online? If so I’d love to see it, and I’m sure others would too, so please post in the comments!

  • Craig

    How experimental is this new piece of writing, thats the question (Though one without a question mark it seems).  The problem is, as you highlight, there isn’t really a forum for experimental writing, is there?  There’s no experimental writing section at Waterstones.  There’s the internet of course, but that goes down the self publishing route again doesn’t it, which gets us back onto Amanda Hocking.  There are only two books that I can think of (that I’ve read) that I’d class as experimental.  One of them is 253 (which I’ve mentioned numerous times before) – and that started as an internet based project anyhow – and House of Leaves.  House of Leaves however had a narrative.  Several, actually.  And it also took Mark Z Danielewski like, ten years to write (though this too is a moot point.  I started my book over ten years ago, and still it languishes)

    But its experimental isn’t it?  If you have fun with it, then you dont know where it might lead.  It might not lead anywhere, but it might open up new thought processes which could help your other work.

    As soon as you have something, throw it my way, yeah?

  • http://getmewriting.com Matt Roberts

    It’s a little experimental. Honestly, it’s only as little thing. It has similarities to my word map idea, but it’s not as big as that. Update soon!

  • kingzoko

    I know I’m a little late to comment but I just found this post.
    I wrote a small series of experimental pieces a year or two ago that I thought I’d share. They’re on my writing blog, here:


    They’re called “surrealscapes”. My favorites are #3, #2, and #7. Each one is a individual prose-poem type “story”, but all eight share
    some themes/images/language style etc. and were written with the “set” in mind. They could probably still use quite a bit of revision, and I’d like to pick the project up again at some point (make the set more cohesive, for one thing).

    I also wanted to mention Christine Brooke-Rose as a little-known writer of
    experimental novels…I’ve only read a couple of them (“Out” and
    “Such”), but I recommend her for anyone interested in seeing how
    experimental writing can be fashioned into longer works. I would also
    recommend works by the Oulipo group writers – most notably Raymond
    Queneau and Georges Perec (read in the original French if possible) –
    who employed different constraints in their fiction, like Perec’s novel
    “La Disparition” which was a lipogram (the entire book written without
    using the letter ‘e’).

    I’m curious as to what your experimental idea was. Could you share? I agree with your post, in that it all comes down to balance in terms of time dedicated – a little bit of experimental writing to give yourself a break, some variety, but not so much that it acts as a form of procrastination from your other (probably more serious) work.

  • http://getmewriting.com Matt Roberts

    Dude, it’s never too late to comment! I like the freewriting kind of vibe in your work, and I will look up the writers you mentioned (although my French ain’t that hot!)

    The experimental piece is actually the background to this blog! You can find the write up here http://getmewriting.com/matts-writing/freewriting-a-writers-wallpaper/

    and you might also like this http://getmewriting.com/inspiration/writers-dont-delete-spam/

    Oh, and this isn’t me, but it’s pretty awesome: http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2011/april/tree-of-codes-making-of

  • Robin

    Preface to ‘Shadows’, a work I published (online) just over a year ago.