♦Welcome to another edition of the Open Book Blog Hop!♦
Do you hurry through a first draft, or are you conscious
of flaws as they go down? Has that changed over time?
Welcome back to another Open Book Blog Hop! The authors included in this ongoing series wish to thank you for your reads. We appreciate, even more so, when you share our writings with your friends. If you’re new to the series, welcome aboard. The authors engage and impress weekly. Prepare to become a regular reader.
Hurry up and wait is a key phrase in my family. My dad was drafted for the Vietnam War in 1970. My mother was expecting their first child and he was subsequently placed in a National Guard company–that’s why I’m here today. His brother in arms, my godfather, wasn’t so lucky. (You can read about my Uncle Skip here.) The thing about military training is that it passes down, even unconsciously.
My dad had become a precision machine after basic training (in which he had become an officer, and then he retired that hat to become a regular enlistee) and years of service. Our family vacations were run like campaigns, because that is how he knew how to organize and effectively move his squad. We were willing grunts, too. My brother and I responded well to the structure (mostly).
Let’s just say, I’m never late for things. I’m prepared–often over prepared. In writing, my approach is the same. I hurry up (write it all down) and wait (go back again and again and again–as many times as it is necessary to have a well-honed story). I don’t mind waiting, because waiting is part of the process of writing.
The stories I write often come from dreams or similar kinds of inspiration. The dictation in my head is fast. Trying to get it all out on paper the way I hear it is no easy task. The dictating voice could start at any time, anywhere. I used to carry a tiny notebook in the event that happens. With the advent of smartphones, I now have the benefit of the notes app and voice memo software. I prefer the notes app, so I don’t have to hear my own voice. Besides, people look at you weird when you’re yammering on about the demons and aliens converging on the Earth to destroy us before we destroy all of them.
It’s understandable. They have no idea I’m an author. There’s no name plate following me around to tell them I write movies and books. Besides, the act of writing is listening to the voice in my head telling a story, not speaking over it. If I dictate, the voice goes silent–out of frustration or switching brain functions. So, when the dictation begins, it’s time to hear and type.
The only place this doesn’t work out is when I’m in the car. But guess when I have the most time to just let that part of my brain run? In the car. I’m there listening to my tunes, with my concentration on the road, so that inner child can’t scramble all over my brain thinking and wondering, running down tangent trails. The dictation can come through. The story plays like a silver screen dream in the cinematic mind.
It’s fast, too! Just like a film. So, I had to learn to write it all down just as quickly. Thankfully, life led me in that direction. When I graduated college, I still hand-wrote my works, because it proved the fastest way for me to do so. My typing skills weren’t all that great, despite all the papers I had written. Within a couple years, I left retail and banking to join the civil service. I went back to my University as a clerk in the purchasing department. Data entry gave me mad typing skills. If you want to learn how to type and type well, you take a typing course, then you struggle through a few months of data entry. I can touch type the number pad, too!
With fast typing under my belt, I am able to keep up pretty well with the movie in my head. Sometimes, taking my time is necessary, though, as the words gum-up. My head is a dictionary, but it doesn’t always flip to the right word. Remember searching through a rolodex for a number. You know who you need to call, but the card has disappeared in the mix. Thankfully, the thesaurus on hand helps me figure out those words stuck on the tip of my tongue. Still, you have to hit pause on the movie until you can get that resolved.
Although I say I hurry, I do get tripped up, so I can get things as close to right as is possible in an initial draft. I’ve learned that this helps me save myself a great deal of work later! It also helps my editor concentrate on story more than line edits. That is how I improve my writing, anyway. The editors I’ve worked with have complimented my style and skill. So, I must be doing something right!
Hurry up and wait also means that even though I hurry through the initial draft to get everything on paper, that I draft and redraft. I lose count each time, but you can see the number of files in the book folder on my computer to see approximately how many (sometimes I write over them by accident and there are always fewer copies than there were drafts).
Waiting is the hardest part…
Waiting isn’t a bad thing. I see a lot of beginning writers making this mistake. They want to get that book out there, but they’re not thinking much on the process that has to happen to get there. Writing, after all, is about the journey, and a writer should enjoy the process. That means the editing phase, too. I can hear the groans now, but I am serious. The edits allow you to revisit the story, to hear that dictation again, and to polish the jewel you worked so hard to unearth. You wouldn’t present that beautiful jewel without carefully extracting it, cutting it, and bringing out all that beauty for the world to see?
A gem should have as few inclusions as possible to be of greatest value. The way the gem is cut also matters. Jewelers take their time cutting and polishing a stone for the maximum effect. Trust that they don’t skip around to hurry a gem out to the showroom floor. They also assess the potential of a gem. If the preparation cannot adequately provide a saleable gem, they will scrap it. Writers should do the same. Set that work aside. There may be pieces you can use for other works, but don’t bother polishing something that is never going to be of value to you. It’s worse than the misuse of the comma.
Take enough time to assess what you have as you go. With the evolution of your skills, this will quicken. Writers should focus on the journey and perfecting their skills. Never think you have learned all you need to know about the craft. Self-assessment requires an ability to be honest with yourself, to use feedback constructively, and to apply what you learned there forward. That means, you can hurry to write it all down with the dictation, but you’re going to have to wait through the rest of the thorough process of preparing a book for publication–no matter how long that is.
Hurry up and wait already…
Don’t fear the process. Embrace it. If you want to be a writer, then you do the work of writing. Writing is work. Whatever tears you from that reality must be discarded: dreams of fame, riches, awards, and adulation. Stop focusing on these matters of ego. They do not serve the art, but rather dis-serve the artist. Have you ever adored a clout chaser? Or do you emulate those who work their craft effectively with that art as the central point of what they do?
Your answer to these questions can give you insight into how you’re approaching writing. That approach matters for your career. The approach frames how both readers and colleagues view you and your work. Remember that writing is also a business. Books are a product. If the creator doesn’t put in the time to research not only their topic but how to execute the manufacturing in the most efficient and effective ways, they will be outsold by the competition, even fail at their mission.
If you don’t believe me, write your author business mission statement. What are the key points and goals you listed? Is the focus on clout gains or product improvement and client benefits? Your goal may be be to write a best-seller, but your mission is the process of getting there:
Author K. Williams’s mission is to enhance her writing and research skills in the area of fiction and screenwriting, to provide readers with entertaining stories that will excite and inspire. K. Williams seeks to use fiction as a means to promote reader engagement around the world through the continued use of one of the oldest media formats as well as engaging in modern cultural storytelling as technology advances the ways in which humans engage narrative.The Blue Honor Blog
So, hurry up and wait. Hurry your notes onto paper, but take the time to consider what they mean to your platform. Consider, also, how you will cut-set-present that jewel you discovered to the audience. Then ask, why you bothered at all. Don’t rush the process. A master craftsperson never rushes. They move at precisely the speed their skill suggests is efficient and appropriate for the project at hand.
Check out what the other authors have to say on hurrying by clicking on the links below…