Last night’s count was 1294.
You know, as much as I try to think something through and then write it down, sometimes the act of writing is necessary for the thinking. And yet, often writing gets me so preoccupied with finding the right words, that I’m sort of paralyzed when it comes to thinking about anything else (like, you know, the story) and it’s hard to get anything done.
Recently I mentioned writing notes for myself before I started writing out a scene. This is the way I did things for a long time, and I’m not sure why I got out of the habit. But I’ve started doing it again, and what a difference! So if you have an idea what you need to write and then get blank screen shock when you face the computer, or get so caught up in perfectionism that you can’t get stuff down (yes, I know I’m allowed to edit. But that knowledge does not always seem available to the writer part.), I thought I’d jot down what’s working for me.
I start out writing very loosely. I talk about what this scene is about, who’s in it, what’s come right before, where their emotional state is, what I need to have happen, maybe some ideas. (You might check out PBW’s 5 P’s for help with that.) This is sort of a warm-up for me. At some point I get a sense of how it goes and I start writing it, again, very loosely and usually in the present tense. He goes here, he does this. What does he see? Brief description. And that makes him feel this way, so he does that. Dialogue is often written without quotes and sometimes like a play with He: blah blah, She: blah blah. Often, as I working, I’ll lapse back into past tense, start naturally putting things in quotes and writing tags. In essence, I lapse into writing prose. What I’m working on now is realizing when that’s getting me stuck again and switching back to the note-taking. Usually the clue for that is when I call up the thesaurus because I’ve used the same word twice in a row and can’t think of another. If I’m doing editing like that, I’ve gone too far and it’s time to switch back to the notes.
When I get to the end, it’s time to go back through and edit the notes into something you’d actually like to read. Sometimes this is really quick, and sometimes it takes a bit of tweaking, fleshing out, nit-picking.
All of this, I suppose, is just a way for me to trick my internal editor.
Hey, you don’t want to hang out for this boring stuff. Why don’t you go get another Diet Coke and I’ll let you know when I’ve got something for you to read, ok?
Yesterday, Jo Leigh blogged about feeding the inner writer to help it grow. It was a great post, and I recommend it. Maybe if I feed my inner writer enough, she’ll grow a bit more confident and we won’t have to play these games anymore. But as I learned from Jo Leigh’s post…maybe not (which was somehow comforting).
So aside from hoping you find this helpful, I’m wondering… Do you ever need to go through a process to get writing done? Do you have tricks to hide what you’re doing from you internal editor?