On Writing: An Eternal Editor's Look at the Process
NaNoWriMo begins in a month, and I, as a dabbler in the blog genre and professional editor of teen writers and amateur editor of adult authors, feel inclined to add to the advice nattering about the 'Net.
1. Take yourself seriously, and govern your time accordingly.
Don't hesitate to own your ambitions. Do that by setting aside times to write (daily, ideally).
2. During that time, WRITE.
Recently, author Jordan Poss spoke to my students about his writing process. He advised them to focus on sitting down and getting the writing done rather than trying to have the perfect environment or a set ritual to bring down the muse. As a person who will do anything other than the task at hand, I heartily embrace this message (in fact, this article is an avoidance of the gym. Physician, heal thyself!).
3. Get down the sentence of the next chapter before stopping.
I LOVE this second piece of advice from Jordan. It's harder to let life stop the process if you already have a chapter going. That one sentence will nag you to the point of action.
4. Rough drafts are crap. Don't stop because of that!
I tell my students, "I can work with crap! I can't work with nothing." The same for you! You can edit a piece, but you can't improve on the void.
Words are delightful and magical and the idea of them should not be pondered deeply. Do, however, play with them. Extract sentences and write them in the style of your favorite author or as if being said by a character from a movie. Play with sounds and excess and simplicity. This will revive your love of writing and allow you to see the many ways of approaching the same idea.
Play with sounds and excess and simplicity.
Advice for those like me
1. Attempt movement before writing
This seems to contradict #2 (and directly contradicts what I'm doing), but set time aside before your writing time to exercise, garden, do yoga, etc. Not as a writing exercise, but as a lifestyle and as a tool of focus and enjoyment. The movement WILL help you sit down and get to work.
2. Seek experience
Sail a boat. Take a blacksmithing class. Make bathtub wine. Find a sword-fighting class and experience the literal clash of weapons. You'll feel your character's actions, AND you'll be around some of the most fascinating people in the world. Steal their personalities and recreate them on paper. You will have far more interesting writing, and your life itself will become the book.
What advice do YOU have to aspiring or experience authors? Let me know in the comments!
Are you in the Upstate SC area? Check out my upcoming workshop Combat, Conflict, and Collaboration, a writing workshop that teaches stage combat!