Thursday, November 12, 2009

Technical Trudging

Happy Thursday! I haven't been able to get out all week. My car is still sounding funny, despite the few solutions that the court jester has tried to make it sound dignified. After I finally accepted the Universe's odd way of gifting me, I've gotten a lot of writing done. Housework and stuff I was going to organize to make dad's job a little easier.....not so much.

Today, I wanted to talk about technicalities in our writing. Verb usuage, dangling participles, passive voices, adverbs, gerunds, comma's and semicolons; it's enough to make the most intelligent writers doubt themselves. And then don't forget about characterizations, plot movement and setting descriptions. Somehow it must all be weaved together to tell an incredible story.

When I first started pursuing writing as more than a hobby, I found such a wealth of information on the internet, through agent blogs, websites, editor interviews, etc.. I love that we have this ability at our fingertips. But like all things, too much can be a bad thing.

I found myself struggling under the weight of all these rules and technicalities. I would agonize over the "was" in my sentence for minutes before coming up with a better verb. I would delete more than I typed. I went through several months of writing nothing, my brain so intent upon catching every error in the first draft. I found writing to be a hassle, a trudgery instead of fun. I bet you've never had that experience. HA! If you have found yourself in this predicament, stop for a moment and close your eyes. (Ok-you'll have to wait until you are finished reading this post-then close your eyes.)

What made you start writing? I think I've shared before that it was my great grandmother's pride in my little Christmas poem that opened up a world of writing for me. I wrote all day, constantly creating poems, stories and journaling. I loved to write. I loved the feel of the pen rolling across the paper as I put down my words. MY WORDS. I would escape into my own world and write it furiously for hours. Yes, before typing-I would write longhanded for hours.

How did you feel when you were writing? You know what? These two questions are the most important in a writer's life, in my opinion. Because to get beyond the technicalities, we need to remember when writing was our freedom. Remember that pride of an A on your creative essay? Re-visit it. Your teacher would give you an A right now, despite the was's and adverbs. Because you have a talent. Remember that giddy excitement when you sit down to write your story. Remember the freedom that words pouring onto a page offered for you and anyone that read it.

This is the stuff our stories are made of. The foundation of a house isn't pretty. Our foundations in writing won't be perfect. It's the first pouring. But, in order to pour it-we have to ignore the rules until it is dried. Then it is time to revisit the technicalities. The rules that make our stories stronger, tighter and better. Much like the plaster/sheetrock, carpet and roof make the house stronger to live in and more desirable.

So, have fun with your writing. Forget all about the rules for a few minutes, or you will stunt your creativity. Creativity doesn't follow rules. I learned this the hard way.  Like, when I used to sit and write for hours. Revision follows rules, we'll worry about it then, okay? 

Nano Progress: 19,119


  1. Rules! ICK! I worry about filler words and punctuation while writing my first draft, but any other rules are thrown to the wind.

    I hope nano is good to ya! How's the job hunt going? I wish you could finish your book and get an agent and publisher. Then you'd have the job. I wish that for all of us.:)

  2. Holy cow! Were you in my mind last night? I was just thinking about this. I've been trying to revise my ms for a while now. I've managed to purge most of the adverbs, but in some places, they seem necessary. I pulled out five different books that have been on the NYT Bestseller list. Guess what. They all had adverbs in them! Go figure. I started thinking about how much fun I had writing this first draft. It was for the reasons you state exactly. I didn't think about the rules.

  3. I totally agree, but what I've found is that the first draft of my second book is better than my first. If you learn all those little things that you mentioned then eventually you'll do them naturally. At least that's what I think.

    Great post.

  4. I was like you Kristi, floundering under all the rules. It made me question my calling. Then I spent some time in prayer and I now I write with sheer passion. Rules have the place but there is nothing to correct if I haven't written anything.

  5. As Nora Roberts says, "Vomit out your first draft." Not the prettiest turn of a phrase, but very true. The second rule would be, stay true to your voice and there are NO hard and fast rules. Just guidelines. Or you can look at it as, rules were made to be broken. Know the rule then break it if it makes a better story.

  6. Robyn-me too! I've applied online since my car is not in use, but so far nothing has happened.

    patti: I totally agree-my rough drafts now are sooooo much better than my rough drafts when I first started this venture.

    Tamika and Angelia: I like your way of thinking. I'm glad I'm a rebel. Aren't you? :)

  7. Well said! There were times during my last book writing that I had to stop reading agent blogs and the comments in even author blogs... I got so wrapped up in knots over whether I was doing it all right.

    It really limits creativity, too.

    Write first. Edit later. :)


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