Thursday, June 18, 2009

How Does Your Writing Grow?

People are always asking me, "How do you manage to write so much?"

It's funny to me because I never feel I have written enough!

Each day I write a little more - an article, a chapter, a lesson or some fiction and each day I think, if only I'd had a few more hours I could have done 'this' or 'that'. There never seems to be enough time.

We've just been asked by our movie producer to work on our Hollywood script - again - a new director wants some changes to it. For the next 4 to 6 weeks, we're intending to get stuck in to that script - and find time we didn't think we had.

That's the writer's life. Just like everyone else, we have to find the time, whether we think it's there or not.

People also ask me, "How do you write so fast?"

Actually I don't think I do. I write slowly, considering every word and phrase as I go along. Just like the way I read.

Okay, I get to write two to three thousand words a day but that doesn't mean I put them all down in a mad dash. Often I'll spend hours editing and rearranging words and paragraphs for best effect.

I'm also not afraid to delete a whole swathe of writing if I think it's not working or, in fiction, is irrelevant to the story.

It's about not being precious. Having the courage to see writing for what it is - a collection of words that, like sand, settles sometimes beautifully, sometimes not. And like building sandcastles, it's okay sometimes to break them down and start again.

If I had to pick one characteristic that marked out a great writer I think it would be this: The ability to scrap everything and start again without fear or a sense of frustration. The courage to work without ego - and without pride obscuring vision.

Writers tend to get very attached to what they've written - and often regard their work as concrete and immutable. This is okay if you're writing for yourself. But, when you're writing for the market, this tack won't really help you.

Writing is rewriting.

Writing is editing.

Writing is polishing.

Think about it. If you went to a jeweler and he showed you his half finished rocks and told you he thought they were beautiful just as they were, you might agree. But you'd still want to see his diamonds, wouldn't you? You'd still want to buy something polished and sparkling to perfection.

So it is with writing. You might think that what you've done is pure brilliance - and it probably is.

But when someone else thinks there's something lacking - or there's too much, you need to listen.

Writing only works when it works for the majority of people.

Readers, even when they don't really understand the mechanics of writing, seem to have an innate ability to know when something is working - or not, even if they don't know why.

And if you find that your writing is not as effective as you'd imagined, don't be afraid to go back and rework things.

Personally, when we're dealing with publishers, editors or movie producers, we make a point of listening very carefully. We ask questions about what they consider good and effective writing - and we're often surprised by their answers.

But we absorb what they say and then rework our writing so that it is more in line with their expectations.

And here's a tip. Often when publishers and producers have criticisms and ideas, they don't actually want to you to go back and just fix the things they don't like. And they really don't want you to put in the things they suggest!

What they want is for you to bring back something 'better', even if it's markedly different from what you originally showed them.

You have to make writing 'work'. And if you're reworking material, don't just fix things, rethink the whole piece. Take onboard the suggestions, yes, but also be mindful of the entire package. Do the suggestions change the way the writing works? Do you have to approach the manuscript again - and make it work, again?

If so, don't be afraid to do that.

Because when you do, you'll make yourself paying fans in the writing business.

And they'll keep coming back.

Keep Writing!
Your Success is My Concern
The Easy Way to Write
Post a Comment

The Writing Academy

Welcome to the official blog of Rob Parnell's Writing Academy, updated weekly - sometimes more often!