The One Inch Frame Technique

The one inch frame is a concept by Anne Lamott. I read her book Bird by bird. If you want to see how much I enjoyed reading it, check my review on Goodreads here.

Anne talks about the overwhelming emotions a writer feels when at his desk feeling violently nauseous when his imagination has died, or boredom eats into his creativity or paralysis sets into his butt or fingers. Either way her One Inch Frame is an ideal way of tackling things like this. It’s about looking at your work through a one inch photo frame.

The One Inch Frame

The One Inch Frame

One Inch

This frame of one inch covers very little and that’s precisely what Anne suggests. Move inch by inch, bird by bird, line by line, scene by scene, frame by frame. Get it? It means breaking down the chunk and just writing the next step. Don’t think how you will write the next 10,000 words think simply of the next line. And work on that bit by bit.

Think Cinema

The one inch frame also made me look at frames a whole lot more. I mean published writers have this keen sense of seeing everything through or with a writer’s eye. We read and watch and learn with this “different sight.” So have you watched a movie? Have you noticed how it’s a continuous change of frames or scenes. There are some movies that are cinematographic in an enchanting way where you get swept in the sights and sounds. The one inch frame can also help you create scenes like cinema. It helps you write a scene which captures everything in that one frame; the color of the curtains, the buzzing of the bees, the fragrance of the Earl Grey and the buttery taste of a muffin.

All you need is the destination

Anne stresses that you need to know the goal, the climax, the ending. You just have to but when you write with the one inch frame you don’t need to plot the whole map how to get there. If you work frame by frame your characters have the freedom to breathe and take shape independently.  You don’t have to make them cookie-cutter style and you can easily surprise yourself.

More Manageable

Using Anne’s one inch frame can also make your writing seem more manageable. It won’t be so daunting when you have to revise 75,000 words or when you have to add in another 20,000. You simply get to it scene by scene, removing all doubt, fear and procrastination from your mind.

Have you tried writing by the one inch frame? Let me know. I’d love to hear if it helped you.

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