Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Way We Write

A friend recently shared a link to an interesting and thoughtful blog post.  Most romance readers and writers are familiar with the author of the post, but no matter who wrote it, Rocki St. Claire's words are important for writers to read and think about for several reasons.

Each of us has our own, unique way of writing.  While some of us rewrite and revise as we go along, at the other end of the spectrum are the writers who write straight through, from beginning to end, then go back for the rewriting and revisions.  Both ways work for the writers who use them.  Both ways get the job done.

After years of doing what works best, along comes a bump in the road.  Perhaps a writer is getting mired in making changes, to the detriment of the story progressing to the next level.  The writer is stymied by writing and rewriting the same scenes and passages.  Or it might be that the quick draft story the writer thought was solid may have taken too many twists and turns, causing revisions and rewriting to take too much time or be too confusing.  We often think we're fine with "the best way," until something happens to bring us to writing at the speed of a limping turtle, or worse, coming to a grinding halt.

When it's time to take stock of the way we write, opening ourselves up to new ways and ideas for putting words on paper screen is a great place to start.  The change doesn't have to be drastic.  If you normally plow through a story without stopping, try going back through each scene and making small changes before moving on to the next.  If you rework as you go, try writing a full chapter before going back over it, or wait three days. Whatever you do that's different, give it some time.  Our brains need time to adjust to new styles of doing things.  If, after a reasonable time, you find the change isn't working, you can tweak it or go back to your original way of doing it.  I'd lay odds that you find at least one small change that helped, if only a little.

I started out as a first draft writer, going back when the story is finished to revise and rewrite.  But the more I write, the more I make adjustments to my method.  While I still write from beginning to end, I'll often begin my daily writing time with a quick read-through of the day before's work.  It's a chance to catch misspelled and missing or duplicate words, and I also might (or might not) fix confusing sentences.  When I find a major mistake, I make a note of it on a sticky note or in a scene notes file I've created to keep everything in one place.  When it's time to go back to revise and rework, all I have to do is look at my notes to know where the problem is or the change needs to be.  This can work especially well for timelines and details.

New ideas often spring from fresh perspectives, prompted by different ways of doing things.  If writing has lost its sparkle for you, if putting words on paper has become stale, it may be time to try a new way of working, whether through small changes or large.  Many of us find that adjustments in the way we write can make the work a little easier and especially more enjoyable.  And that's really what we're hoping to gain.
One doesn't discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time. - Andre Gide


Joanie said...

Great blog posting, and wonderful complement to the St. Clair post. Thanks so much for this kind of tag-team thoughtful approach to meeting the needs of the writing system.

Rox Delaney said...

Thanks , Joanie! Rocki's blog post got me thinking, and I loved her hubby's analogy of building a high rise. He's one of those who obviously "gets" it.

We each have to find what works best for us, and when it starts to quit working well, we shouldn't be afraid of making a few small changes...or even some big ones, if needed.