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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Cup of coffee, a donut and the muse.

The other day I decided to share some of the things I've learned on my own writing journey. I didn't want it to turn into a full length novel so I broke it up in to parts. I ended on revisions and I wanted to continue.

Writing Time
Just about anyone who is working on a long project will tell you that it is critical that you devote time for it. I like to call it PoT - project over time... not to be confused with an herb (shame on you), HoT (heal over time) or DoT (damage over time) that my gaming buddies may recognize. Consider what is a realistic amount of time for a consistent frequency and then stick to it. Some people select to write an amount per day... some an amount per week. Whatever, pick something and then do it.

The Zone
Anyone who has actually tried to write an amount each day (like 250 words per day) knows that sometimes it's pretty darn hard. Either the dishes going in the dishwasher sounds more important... the kids have too much homework... you are too tired... or, you just sit there and struggle over one sentence. Creativity is a workout. It's exercise for your mind. Sometimes your mind is sluggish, slow to respond or focused on something else. It's not always going to be primed and ready. There are days when my brain is stimulated... I can spend the entire day just writing and writing and writing. I'm excited. I know I'm making progress. I know IT's GOOD! Then there are days when I sit here staring at my poster boards of my outline and characters and can't seem to write a line to open the next paragraph (don't even think about a smooth transition either). It's frustrating. It's irritating... It makes us feel, well, like we aren't good.

Here's a little secret with writing. Nothing comes out perfect the first time or the second or the third or the fourth. The first time you write that scene of dialog it may sound repetitive or the characters may appear flat. The first stage is getting from point a to point g to point z. Beginning - Conflict - Final climax - Ending

Polishing, fleshing out, smoothing and more - these are really done during the revisions, edits, adjustments and critiques.

The Inner Editor: We Hate to Love Him
I lovingly call my Inner Editor, Bob. He's an asshat. Usually when I'm not in my writing zone it's because Bob is telling me... "you know, that scene in chapter two - you know the one I'm talking about - well, it really is rough and if you were to just change this or that... it'd really smooth it out." Or he's saying, "Rashenbo! You haven't made L.T. do anything this entire chapter. He's fading. Fix it now, go back and add him back in... oh, and I'm thinking we should change his attitude a bit."

Sometimes Bob is right and I've forgotten an important plot device and it's important that I go ahead and get it in the right place. Many times, Bob is wrong. What I need to do is just drop a little note to myself like [this statement is inconsistent with character behavior - revisit]. This tells me there is something that I should look at when I'm spending time on "fixing". Perhaps while I was writing the character took on a life of his or her own and said something I don't think fits... Now, the character could be changing in a way I'm not seeing and fixing it requires more than just changing a simple statement... or maybe it is just a simple fix. But, if I spend half my day thinking about the character and that one line... well, how much farther forward have I made it?

The inner editor ties closely with the comments I made last time on revisions. There are days when I just can't seem to write anything new and I spend that day smoothing here or there or making notes to myself... or, I'll read over critiques that I've received from writer buddies. I like to keep some of their comments fresh in my mind so that I can think about it and how I can continue improving.

The inner editor is all about balance. Listen to him or her, but know when to act. I imagine that's enough for today.

Get a nice hot cup of coffee, tea or chocolate. Grab a donut... and wait, the muse will come to share. Just watch out for Bob... he might eat all the donuts while you aren't watching.

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Blogger Susan Helene Gottfried said...

No way. Bob is NOT touching my donuts, hear me??? HUH???

Seriously... how do you get in my head so well? I say all the time that creativity is a muscle; the more you work it, the stronger it gets. And here you are, talking about giving your creativity a work out...

Not to mention that bit about revising and going from point a to g to z...

Really. We might be sharing a brain, you know.

4:32 PM  
Anonymous writtenwyrdd said...

bob is the reason I have a big butt...he DOES eat all the donuts, but he is me!

4:35 PM  
Blogger crpitt said...

Hey i love the writing advice! I am only now discovering how much i love writing! I have always been a great ideas person but never but pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. But through the world of blog i seem to be writing more and more.
PS. I love the new layout.

6:42 PM  
Blogger crpitt said...

I forgot to say i love the donuts!

6:42 PM  
Anonymous Cheryl said...

Now I know what name to put on the restraining order. ;)

8:01 PM  
Anonymous Tracey said...

Nice tips, thanks for sharing.

7:18 PM  

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