There are several stages involved in the removal of contamination from anything, including writing.
This involves removing the big lumps of rubbish before you even start writing and usually involves self-censorship on the basis of your perception as to what would be acceptable by society and your Aunt Mabel. It involves sitting down and thinking of a suitable big idea to write about. Certain themes would be discarded from the mix at this stage, such as titles like ‘Life in the Middle East: a Candid Account of My Time as a Front Line Soldier in ISIS’ or ‘Journal of a Child Abuser’. If it’s not obvious to you why these titles are inappropriate, then I would suggest having a quiet word about the matter with the local constabulary at your earliest convenience.
Once a big idea has been found and deemed to be acceptable, it’s worth spending some time sketching an outline to the piece of writing. This would include such things as a plot outline, chapter notes, character sketches and an idea of the message that the writing is going to convey. Some attention might be given at this stage to discarding plots that involve boring events, long chapters redolent with grandiloquent descriptive passages, characters that have no purpose in life and messages that do not resonate with your audience.
As you write, you may find that your mind starts whirring and all sorts of thoughts start interfering with your writing process. The trick is to stay focused on your intended outline – filling in the gaps as you type. You will largely find that this is an automatic process that does not involve too much thinking. As long as you stick to the general direction of the plot, your subconscious will automatically throw out the words you need in order to get you from a to b. If you can set yourself far enough back from the process and just let your mind work as something like a word associating machine (one word will suggest the next, which will suggest the next, etc.) then you might even find yourself enjoying the process. It will be an experience akin to watching the events of a movie appear on the screen (albeit a little slower – depending on your typing speed). The things to filter out at this stage are the kinds of thoughts that interfere with this process, such as self-doubt, fear of failure, thoughts that your writing is not good enough or worries as to what your Aunt Mabel will think of the utter bosh that you’re … etc.
Fourth Stage Treatment
The final purification to apply to your writing is the only one that is normally talked about in this context: the editing and re-drafting. Much has been said about this subject already so I’ll just redirect you to an excellent little resource I popped on my blog a while ago called The Twelve Redrafts of Stewart Ferris, which takes you through all the necessary stages of redrafting.
So there you have it – a quick guide to flushing the sewerage from your writing system. All that remains is to wish you a productive writing session and a healthy, wealthy, happy life. Oh, and don’t forget to have fun!