July 11, 2012

Evaluating Your Own Work, Part Two

Posted in First Drafts, organizing your writing, self-evaluation tagged , , at 10:11 am by Rebecca Hein

The multiple distractions of evaluating our own writing help to explain why this is such a difficult job. Small mistakes jump out at us; then we have to stop and fix them or make a note to come back later. Larger problems of structure and writing style also emerge, bothering us with the indecision of “Do I try to fix this now, or continue reading?”

I can’t count the number of times I’ve sat down with a chapter or a whole section of a current manuscript, planning to read it all the way through to try to get a sense of the whole, then being sidetracked by all the small yet important problems I encounter.

February 29, 2012

When Your Writing Won’t Behave, Part Three: Solving the Problem

Posted in organizing your writing, Practice Writing tagged , , , , at 12:56 pm by Rebecca Hein

We’ve seen that the urge to tell the reader everything can slow down our narrative, confuse it, and nearly make it impossible for us to write. All because of the aftershocks from the initial impetus to write our novel, essay, play, or poem.

Fortunately, the solution is simple: give yourself plenty of time to write freely and without restrictions. This habit, I’ve found, gives free rein to all our sidetracks and off-topic ideas. Over time, these aftershocks spend themselves, and then we can write our main points without so many distractions.

February 22, 2012

When Your Writing Won’t Behave, Part Two: The Primal Urge

Posted in Flow, flow in writing, organizing your writing tagged , , , , at 6:54 pm by Rebecca Hein

Behind most writing projects, both fiction and nonfiction, lies the primal urge, “I need to tell you this.” It’s irresistible, and probably makes our job easier in the long run because it motivates us. Yet problems of flow and organization arise from multiple urges, like the aftershocks of an earthquake: “I need to tell you this…and this, and this, and this.” Soon your whole narrative is in a tangle, and you can’t see what to leave in and what to take out.