Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Longer I Write, The More I Trust The Less Concrete Stuff

My first year of writing was less about writing and more about finding books telling me how to write. The second year was less about writing and more learning how to write well. The first half of the third year I had a complete overdose on How To Write in any form and couldn't write a word because it was all wrong, wrong, wrong. The second half of the third year I had trouble typing because I had my middle finger up to the rules, but by goodness I got some words down.

From that point on I wrote and wrote and wrote and worried less about doing it right during the first draft. I came to grips about the fact I wasn't one of those writers who spits out a ready to go first draft. Those writers do exist. Susan Elizabeth Phillips is one of them, but she writes and rewrites each word until they shine and then goes on. Her way would drive me insane and nothing would ever get done.

And the thing is by year seven I still can't spit out a ready to go first draft. That first draft can drag your soul out of your body and do horrible things to it. The book I just contracted was the worse thing I'd ever written. Yeah, it had heart and magic in that first draft (which is the one thing you want your first draft to have if nothing else) but on a basic writing level it was three day old roadkill. It was a wretched, wretched beast of words.

But, I repeat, what it had was heart and magic. That's what I trust with my writing now. I know if I managed to capture that heart and magic, I can fix the story. I can re-write a sentence until my fingers bleed on the keyboard, but if there ain't no heart or magic it's wasted time. Badly written sentences can be fixed, but a heartless dead story is well, dead. It takes way more work to do CPR on it than to write a grammatically correct sentence. This I know. At least, it's true for me. Some people may have that talent. Unfortunately I'm not one of them.

You gotta know what you are capable of so you can write better period. This will change, for sure. But knowing is half the battle.  


  1. First of all, I LOVED your evolution as a writer. It sounds very, very familiar. Wonder how many of us go through those stages in varying orders and to varying degrees?

    And, second of all, thanks for the reminder about drafting vs. revising. For the first time I'm just writing, writing, writing and NOT revising. It's killing me, but the words are coming out so fast, which is fun - if terrifying! I'll have to see how revisions go. This may be my new process. Or I may never do it this way again.

    1. My evolution is still happening. One day I'll look back at this way and think I must have been insane. And you're probably right, many writers do go through varying but similar stages. I've yet to meet a writer who writes the same way they did with their first book.

      "I'll have to see how revisions go. This may be my new process. Or I may never do it this way again."

      lol I'll never be a true pantser again. Never. Yes, we're both tempting fate by throwing that word out there, but some things you know will never happen again.

      We hope.

      Good luck, Caryn. Glad to hear the writing is going well. And honestly when it is who cares about the WHY. :)