The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

Digging Up Bones, pt. 5

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I mentioned last time around that I have fiction ideas exploding out of my head like I never have before.  I credit working in the Fictive Dream workshop with that, but I have to give a fair share of recognition to my creative writing students, too.  They’re cranking out some solid stuff, and that is inspiring me to keep working (and this is far from the first time I’ve mentioned that my creative writers have kept me inspired).  There is a major push in my Creative Writing class to master the fundamentals of writing prose, and I’m thankful that I get to revisit that twice a year so I don’t forget what they are and can continually work on them.  I’ve thought of this type of practice before as similar to the musician who practices and practices scales until he has mastered them, and then keeps on practicing them because it’s a good idea to be in constant touch with those fundamentals.  I think that practice with my Creative Writing students keeps me consistently sharp, and it can lead to some unexpectedly great things–like getting into subconscious writing a lot faster than I otherwise would when I sit down to write.

I’ve heard before how many professional writers set a goal to write 500 words a day.  That sounds easy, like you could crank that out in about 40 minutes–and you can.  I cranked out 630 yesterday in that amount of time while my Creative Writing students were typing first drafts of their stories.  But when you want 500 good words, it can take hours to get them after editing and rewriting and editing and rewriting, and…  you get the idea.  Nonetheless, I’ve found myself working with the 500 words-a-day philosophy with a story I’ve started since The Fictive Dream started.  I’ve never put that type of structure on myself before, preferring instead to write as much as I can (writing myself to exhaustion, actually), and then coming back whenever, editing, and doing it again.  The 500 words seems to be working effectively right now.  I’m not bouncing off the walls after hours of bleeding my mind onto the screen of my laptop or onto the pages of my journal; rather, I’m pleased with having an effectively-managed chunk of writing; a decent step towards having a full draft of a story.  I’ve had three 500-word episodes of writing with this story over the past two weeks, and as such I’ve built a story with a solid foundation.  Each time I sit down, too, I already have problems to address in the story; or, more appropriately, jumping off points so I can get right back into the plot without asking myself what I’m going to do with the story whenever it is that I get a chance to sit down and work on it.

To add to all this crazy new stuff, a colleague mentioned the other day how he read about a writer who constantly edits from the beginning of her story up to the point where she’s left off writing.  If she has 10 pages, she writes perhaps two more, but goes back to page 1 and edits all the way to the end of page 12.  Then she writes 2 more, and edits from page 1 to page 14.  This produces a story that has been edited a whole lot by the time she gets to the end.  It’s already so tight from the start to wherever she is that there is little editing left to do by the time she’s ready to send it somewhere for publication.  I’ve let this philosophy trickle into my work, too, and as a result, right now I have 1500 words that have already been edited three times.

These “new” philosophies and structures have been quite a boon these past few weeks.  Altogether, I’m writing with relatively little stress.  When that’s happened in the past, I’ve been very pleased with the results.

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Written by seeker70

March 10, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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