Go Go Speedwriter

August 12, 2008 at 1:14 pm (editing, Inspiration, motivations, writing) (, , , , )

Some path in my wanderings around the web led me to an article on writing a novel in 30 days. I could have written the first part of this article; so many of my papers in high school and college were night-before extravaganzas. I guess I’ve always been lucky that what comes out of my head is generally coherent and interesting without much editing, because like Catherynne, I always got As on these. I never met a deadline I didn’t like, and in fact I trained myself to need a deadline; it got to the point where I couldn’t even start writing a paper until twelve hours before it was due. Eventually I learned to create artificial deadlines for myself and to actually believe they were real, which was key. Now I actually have time to revise and reflect, and my writing is better for it. I remember the first professor who actually told me she knew I didn’t revise. I wondered how she figured it out, but now that I know how to go back in and tighten up my writing, I realize it was pretty obvious. Craige Roberts, if you read this, thank you; your comment was the kick in the pants I needed.

I still tend to write the first draft in one huge, linear brain dump, because that’s just how I work. For nonfiction, the order it comes out in is generally pretty good. When I’m writing fiction, though, these plot bunnies just start running on to the scene. Rather than follow them, I usually make a note about them in a separate document and work them in when they fit.

One great thing about actually revising my work is that I don’t edit as much as I go, now. I have a lot more freedom to run with ideas that my inner critic says are silly; if they don’t work, well, I’ll take them out later. But sometimes they do work. I still have to fight with my mind sometimes, though. It still has days of believing the first draft has to be perfect. These are the days when I feel the dread of writers’ block the most. If I get really stuck, though, I visit a forum or a generator to grab a quick story idea — something I don’t register as Real Work — and just let the ideas come out. These are throwaway scribblings, and usually they do just end up in the trash, but they remind me that the first try isn’t the only try, and I can allow myself to stutter and stumble knowing that eventually my voice will again be sure and strong and steady.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: