Saturday, April 17, 2010

When in doubt, cut it out...

I like to mull over scenes, dialogue, whole chapters before I sit down at the computer--not on paper, just in my head. I find that my mind is the clearest and I tend to be the most creative right before I fall asleep at night. And, I can't believe I am admitting this, but if I am having writer's block sometimes I lie down like I am going to take a nap. I have no idea why this works for me, but it long as I don't actually fall asleep for real.

That said, here is my pattern for starting a new chapter and submitting to my critique group:

1. Try my best to write at least a half an hour to forty-five minutes each night. Also check Facebook, write emails, pay bills, read the news that pops up on Yahoo's home page, look at photos of celebrities I could care less about. End up staying on the computer for way longer than the half an hour to forty minutes because of this. Occasionally get on a roll. Still do the other stuff. Stay up too late.

2. Futz around with the first half of the chapter for most of the month. Cobwebs clear as our critique meeting approaches. Realize that the reason I keep rewriting certain passages is because they are not working or are irrelevant. Cut them out. Breathe a sigh of relief that they are gone and are no longer vexing me. Finally, get to the second half of the chapter, which for whatever reason, usually goes more quickly.

3. Print chapter out. Read, mark up, change. Print out. Read, mark up change. Print, read, mark up....well you get the picture. This usually occurs until I have reached my self-imposed deadline for emailing the manuscript to my fellow group members.

4. Wonder about how it will be received, particularly the humor and the dialogue. (Starting also to think about scene setting and whether I've included enough of it.)

5. Resist temptation to work more on my first chapter. Just, mostly.


  1. You sound just like me! My computer is usually the basis of my procrastinating. Also, I'm going to revise my first chapter AGAIN.

  2. I think there's something to be said about Jim's approach to writing. I think we're getting bogged down in the editing process and not moving forward enough. I'm going to try limiting my editing until I at least get half of the novel done. This is in response to your 52 1st chapters and Ellen now seeming to want to out do you.

  3. I used to write sermons just that way - write a 2 page intro and take out 1/2. (I did always save the other 1/2 for another week...)

  4. #5--hilarious! Do you like when it pops up on Yahoo "news"--two celebs wear same dress--who wore it better?

  5. 5 is hilarious. I agree with Trager. I like your second half of the chapter theory it always flows more quickly and with greater momentum the more one writes at a time.