Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Writing Practice

Writer Judy Reeves has article on the importance of writing practice.

Her guidelines for practice are summarized below; I added my compared my practices to them. When I started, it seemed like a good idea.

1. Keep writing. Don't stop to edit, to rephrase, to think. Don't go back and read what you've written. If you keep your writing hand moving, you'll bypass the censor, the editor, the critic, and if you're lucky, maybe even the ego.

Sounds like NaNoWriMo to me. Who has time to think when you are trying to finish 50,000 works in 30 days (or less).

2. Trust your pen. Go with the first image that appears. "First thought, best thought," reminds us that the first image comes from your intuitive mind, where the creative process finds its foothold.

So when I'm off on a tangent, it's a good thing? I can live with that.

3. Don't judge your writing. Don't compare, analyze, criticize. Remember that what gets written in writing practice is the roughest of rough drafts - writing that is pouring directly from intuition, too fragile and raw for judgments. Remember to be your own best friend - nonjudgmental, accepting, tolerant, loving, kind, and patient. And remember to laugh sometimes. At yourself and your writing.

Afterall, I have a crit group to help me out with that aspect.

4. Let your writing find its own form. Form will come organically out of what you write. You don't have to have a beginning, a middle, and an end for what your write in practice sessions. Nor does it have to fit into some container labeled story or essay or poem.

I love freewrites, but they always feel like a waste of time.

5. Don't worry about the rules. It doesn't matter if your grammar is incorrect, your spelling wrong, your syntax garbled, or your punctuation off. The time to edit, correct, and polish is during rewrites, not during practice.

So how can I turn off that internal editor when I spell "the" as "hte"?

6. Let go of any expectations. Expectations set you up so you're always ahead of yourself rather than being present in the moment. This is why it's good to dive right into the writing topic with no time to think of what you'll write or how best to shape your writing around a subject.

I write romance. Do I have expectations?

7. Kiss your frogs. First-draft writing doesn't have to be good, it won't always be good, and even when it is good, among the good will be some not so good. Remember, this is just practice. You write what you write.

Crap, I need to start re-reading my blog posts.

8. Tell the truth. Every time you write you have an opportunity to tell the truth. And sometimes it's only through writing that you can know the truth. Be willing to go to the scary places that make your hand tremble and your handwriting get a little out of control. Be willing to tell your secrets. It's risky, but if you don't write the truth, you chance writing that is glib, shallow, or bland.

I have, but no one believes me.

9. Write specific details. Your writing doesn't have to be factual, but the specificity of detail brings it alive. It does not matter if the tree you sat beneath was a sycamore or a eucalyptus, but naming it one or the other will paint a clearer picture. The truth isn't in the facts; it's in the detail.

I had a crit partner tell me that I had too many details in my manuscript.

10. Write what matters. If you don't care about what you're writing, neither will your readers. Write about what interests you, what bothers you, what you don't understand, what you want to learn more about.

What if I cared when I started and now I don't? Oh, I remember why I liked my characters.

11. Read your writing aloud after you've completed your practice session. You'll find out what you've written, what you care about, and when the writing is "working." Reading aloud lets you know when the writing is repetitious or trite. Reading aloud tells you when you're writing with authenticity and when you've found your writer's voice.

You'll also find out when your brain processes what you meant rather than what you've said.

12. Date your page and write the topic at the top. This will keep you grounded in the present and help you reference pieces you might want to use in something else. A review of the dates in your practice notebook can provide insights about your writing self.

I'm organized, but I never would be able to do this.

In all the advice is great. I have a sarcastic streak about a quarter mile wide. There should be a html tag for that.

via OAWC

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