If your muse is the spirit that gives you a perfect story to write, what is it that let’s you crank out a rough first draft quickly?
Is it a pulp fiction muse? No. Pulp fiction stops at the first draft. The rest of us turn our fast, unedited, mixed-quality first drafts into good material by revising.
Your amuse? Maybe.
Asocial is a lack of interest in being social.
Atheist is a lack of interest in theism. (Or at least it should be.)
Amuse is a lack of interest in your muse.
Are you trying to write and your muse isn’t helping? Better get help from your amuse. Your amuse doesn’t care about a perfect story. If it doesn’t know what happens next, it might write “something magical happens” and move on. When your amuse sees too many directions for the story, it may write a paragraph on several of those directions and then keep writing the story that follows. Your amuse doesn’t care how much mess is left behind for the second draft.
The amuse finds it funny to make a mess of things. It would rather make a mess than not move forward. The amuse is amusing.
Of course, the amuse is nothing new. I’m just putting a name on writing with your editor turned off. I once heard a story about a high school English teacher who rarely had a student that was able to finish writing a novel as their term paper. Forgive me if you’ve heard the original and I’ve changed it. It was a long time ago. What I remember well about the story was her experiment to get those term papers done. She changed the assignment. They no longer needed to write a novel. They needed to write a bad novel. The competition was to write the worst novel ever written.
Every student wrote a novel that year. They probably were some of the worst novels ever written, but they gotten written.
The Argument in Favor of the Amuse
Which is better?
a. Write half of a great novel and then give up in frustration, or
b. Write a full length novel that’s terrible and can be edited and revised until it’s good.
I’d rather do the second one. I repeated the first one several times in order to finish writing my novel Homicidal Tendencies and that made the job last almost three years. That’s no good if the average novel sells less than 10,000 copies.
I’ve read that the average eBook only sells 500 copies. You’d better get really fast at writing if you want to make a living with eBooks then. Can it be done? Yes, it’s possible.
Ryoki Inoue of Brazil is reputed to have only made $30 for each 100 page novel he wrote. To make it pay, he wrote three books a day. That’s 300 pages a day. I like to think of that as a quick first draft.
If we put that to work on eBook writing, we might almost be able to write one in a week. A day off to write the 300 page first draft, five workday evenings (or mornings) for revisions and re-writing, and another day off for the final revision. Ta-da!
Yeah. That plan is a great goal. I don’t think most of us can get that fast, but it’s something to shoot for.
Homicidal Tendencies took me 27 months plus breaks between the big pushes. I’m not going to write a novel in a week and I’m not willing to publish a pulp novel either.
Channeling the Amuse
I do think that channeling a writing amuse is a good idea. Think of it as a friend who constantly reminds you you’re not editing.
You: “I see a word with a squiggly underline up above.”
Amuse: “It’ll be gone on the revision. Keep writing.”
You: “I need a name for this character.”
Amuse: “Call him Dumb-ass and keep writing.”
You: “The cop can’t be Dumb-ass too.”
Amuse: “Call him Cop and keep writing.”
You: “I’m hungry.”
Amuse: “Write until a character eats and then take a food break.”
You: “There are too many enemies. I can’t get my hero out.”
Amuse: “Dynamite. Cops. Other crooks. Destroy some enemies. Write on.”
You: “I don’t know what happens next.”
Amuse: “See the outline. Make it happen. Force it.”
You: “This is getting good.”
Amuse: “You need to write faster.”
You get the idea. Get it written fast. Once you have your first draft written, there’s no reason not to revise fast too. Revision is all about finding problems and fixing them. If you use three drafts, that gives you two revision drafts. The first revision is for any more speedy writing that needs done while editing the paragraphs where the writing job is complete. The final draft is almost all editing. After that, all that’s left is minor tasks like proofreading, formatting, converting, and publishing.
I’m oversimplifying. A developmental edit is a good idea at some point and there’s more to writing a novel than just zipping it out and re-writing. The main point is that you can be faster on your first drafts if you can just learn to tell your internal editor to get lost.
I’m about to test this out as I write a 25,000 word novella. Since I still need to prep the POD formatting for my novel and do a bit of marketing, my plan is to get the outline done this week and write the first draft of the novella next weekend. A novella is a good way to practice writing faster because, if things go wrong and it drags out, it only costs a quarter of the time.
That’s my take on the writing amuse. I had a short version of this article kicking around for a long time. I think the “writing amuse” was my own idea, but if you’ve seen it on another blog in the past just shoot me a link in the comments and I’ll give credit at the start of the post.
Thanks for visiting.
Article by Ivan Izo.