One of the problems that plague writers is planning too much. Spending a lot of time thinking about what to write instead of writing is a form of writer’s block. You know the first draft is not going to be the final, yet there you sit searching for the perfect word. Let’s consider the same situation in reading and studying, related fields where you aren’t tempted to think before acting.
In my first article about imitating the prolific writer Martin Caidin, Prolific Writing Using Caidin Methods, I made the assumption that Caidin did no revision at all. He said the way he wrote books was to sit down and write them in one draft and that’s what he sent to publishers.
The Caidin Methods article encouraged you to practice his method with articles and short fiction by writing several versions without looking at previous versions when writing the next one. Eventually you would develop the ability to write a good article or short story in one draft. I still believe that is a great writing exercise. But, I also see another way to write in one draft and have no revisions; prolific revision.
I’ve made it to the end of the first draft and it’s as long as a full novel. Or close enough. Eighty-seven thousand words. Most of the notes I left along the way point to more writing to be added, including two additional chapters. If anything, the second draft will go over the 100,000 word target.
These reports are about lessons learned. On this long project, I’ve seen the proof of a lesson we all know.
I’ve just passed 80,000 words on the first draft of my novel. The first three novel reports were posted in March, June, and July. What’s the hold up? Reasons are just excuses for failures, but lessons can be learned from failures. Each cause of a slow down in writing suggests a solution in the opposite direction.
After all the work of getting your writing project to its full length, you don’t want to cut anything. But you must. It’s a rare writer who produces perfect copy in the first draft. You’re not that rare writer. Your non-fiction will have too much information on minor points. Your fiction will have too much description, irrelevant side stories, and unnecessary character development. Those are just some examples. Your wasted words may be of a different flavor, but they will be there.
You may be tempted to leave the extra words in. A longer work is a bigger feather in your cap. The problem is, it’s a gray feather. You’ll need to make the cuts if you want it to be a blue “first place” feather. One consolation for removing some words is that you will also find a need for more words. A description will be too short or a process will need more detail. This is why they’re called rough drafts. There is a lot of room for improvement.
You say you’re a writer? What’s your scope? Will you accept every writing job that comes your way? If you are a true master of writing, you can handle every writing type because you’ve done it.
On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with just being a master novelist, for example. There are many successful writers who stick to one type of writing. While specialization generally means death for a species, it is a necessity for individuals with careers. You will need to build up a CV of the right kind of writing if you want to impress potential employers.
All writing is part of the writing profession which is itself a specialization. But, tell someone you’re a writer and they will immediately ask what you write.
If you don’t want to be a writer but want to write more, there can be only one good reason. Either your work or your studies require some writing and it looks like it’s going to take up a lot of your time. This short article will show you how to minimize the stress while producing decent work.
I’ll assume you’re being asked to write something that’s 10 pages or less. Much longer than that and you really need to study how to write.
It’s tempting to try and get your 10 page assignment written all in one sitting. You could write a 10 page e-mail in a couple of hours. Why not an article? Because, an article must focus on a single topic and have a logical flow from beginning to end. We’ll get to that. First, you need to decide when to write.
It’s hard to be creative when you have the blues. Lucky for you, writing is mostly perspiration, not inspiration. If you’ve been writing for some time, practice may have given you the habit of continuing to write in any mood. I’ll assume that’s not the case or you’d be skipping this article. If you can’t generate new ideas when you’re down, the answer is simple. Work on writing you already have in progress. How does that work?
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, flip-flopping between working on my novel and posting articles hasn’t worked out. I’m hooked on writing my novel.
I spent a few more weeks working on the synopsis, finding bugs and resolving story problems. This has resolved a few minor issues and a major one involving the resolution of the story. Because of past attempts at writing a novel that fell short on length, a strong detailed synopsis has become a very important part of my novel writing process.
Enough about my novel for now. What about novels by other people? What can we get out of them to improve our own writing?