Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Writing Process

I have a good friend who's also a writer. She's not published yet, but I think she has the talent to be. However, she hasn't finished a lot that she's started, because, as she explains it, she gets so hung up in going back to perfect what she's already written that she never gets to the ending.

I solve that problem by writing crap. I'm serious. Mostly. Only my husband sees the first draft of a novel when I'm working on it. Even my beta readers get spared that, because my first drafts are total drek. You see, the first draft is where I get the ideas out, play with the concepts, dredge my brain for the story and hork it up onto the computer screen. Sounds lovely, doesn't it? ;p

It's in the second draft where I start to get something worth inflicting on anyone other than the aforementioned husband (mine in sickness, health, and whacked out writing). I take my ruddy awful first draft, double-space it, and print it out so I can put it in a binder. Then I read it and fix stuff (usually after waiting a few weeks to give my brain a rest).

I call this my red pen edit, since I used to use a red pen for it. Now I have a gorgeous fountain pen that anyone who knows me in person knows I love way too much. I use turquoise blue ink with it that's wonderfully pretty and shows up really well against the black text of the print out.

I go through the entire book this way. I fix continuity errors, expand on scenes, repair horrid grammar, and rein in run on sentences that lasted for a page or more. This is where I make the book good. Well, I think I make it good.

Doing the edit on a print out is good for many reasons. For one, it lets me use THE PEN, but it also makes me tap into a different part of the brain than I use when I'm typing into a computer. There's a different feel to it, so it makes it easier for me to enrich the writing. Scenes that I got hung up on with the computer usually sort themselves out at this stage.  It's also way easier on the eyes. I don't really have to look at what I'm typing. If I were to read a 300 page book on a computer screen, I'd start going blind.

Just because I'm me and feeling all extroverted tonight, here is a photo of my latest red pen edit, just to show how much editing I do. This isn't even one of the worst pages. On the left is the book page, obviously written all over. On the right is a piece of regular lined paper. When I want to add in something that I can't fit between two lines of text, I make a numbered reference on where it goes and write it on the lined paper. It works for me.

I guess the point I'm really trying to make here, to my friend and to anyone else who wants to write, is that you don't have to sit down and produce perfection with every word you type. Most of us can't do that. I know I can't. Just get the ideas out. You can always make them perfect later.


  1. The other writer sounds like me. lol And I even sat there swearing last month that I would use the November month to crank out the whole damned thing for better or for worse. I wish life didn't have me to tired off my butt these days. Sometimes I think I need to quit my job in order to really write and finish.

  2. Great post, I think aspiring writers really can use that advice. Andor me as reader, it is interesting to find out how you do it.

  3. I think I need to quit my job in order to really write too ;p I did NaNoWriMo a couple years ago. It was a good experience, but boy did it take focus. My best advice if you want to write is just write, even if you only get a paragraph out a night. Eventually they add up.

  4. No no, believe me, not having a job is never the answer. I find I write more when I work because my brain wants to take a break within my fiction. Having no job means less stress, which means (I think) that I don't need to find a quick way to relax, which for me is through writing.

    Speaking of an unemployed person now... :/