Blogging about writing is a way of focusing my thoughts. It might seem as if I’m obsessing about minor points or over thinking a scene, but for me that’s part of solving the writing puzzle. So many pieces need to fit together. What is really going on in the scene? What do the characters feel? What do they want? How does the scene fit with the rest of the story? Is it important? What am I trying to accomplish?
Most how-to books on writing suggest getting the first draft down as quickly as possible so that the passion shines through. This is good advice, and I would follow it if stories came easy to me, but they never do. I worried about this (for five minutes or so), wondering if my novels would feel dry and unemotional because I approach them as a puzzle, but the only difference between my way of writing and the so-called right way is that I do my thinking as I write rather than as I rewrite.
Is one way better than another? I don’t know, but if we accomplish what we set out to do, both the logical writers and the passionate ones can end up with interesting stories that will evoke emotions in our readers. In my case, during rewrites I get rid of much of the dryness that comes from the puzzle approach. In your case, perhaps, you lose some of that freewheeling passion when you organize what you have written into a more cohesive story.
We all have to find the best way to write. I am not condoning poor grammar, typographical errors, bad plotting, ignorance of story elements, or any of those other rules that new writers rail against. I’m talking about the fun of writing, the passion, the puzzle.
Samuel Johnson remarked, “No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.” I guess that makes most of us blockheads, because we write knowing that except for a select group, there is little money to be made from writing. We need other reasons for spending so much time bleeding words.
For me, it’s the puzzle. As frustrating as it gets, I love figuring out plots, character’s motives, new ways of presenting common thoughts. Beats crossword puzzles any day.
May 13, 2008 at 10:45 am
I find writing the first draft as quickly as possible leaves lots left over for editing…I can see the pros and cons of both, though. I honestly despise editing my own work. But on the flip side, if you get caught up in writing perfectly the first time, you become so focused on the trivial aspects you forget what your point was…So I just settle it out by writing passionately and then letting someone else edit 🙂