Friday, 30 March 2012

Speedy writing

Yesterday I defended speedy writing, so today I thought I’d take a closer look at the idea. What would help me write faster?
If I’m sure of my material, I suspect life would be a whole lot easier. Do I know before I begin what the scene requires, what my high point should be, what the let-down might be? If I don’t, I ought to. Making notes or bullet points might help me stay on the straight and narrow of my plotline.
I need to have done my research. If my characters are sailing down a river I need to know it is navigable, but dangerous white water, or idyllic as in punting down the Cam on a sunny afternoon. I need to know how my characters will deal with whatever watery situation I have put them in.
 Something else I need to do is eliminate all distractions. For me that means  no tv nitpicking away at me from other areas of the house, and forgetting about FB and Twitter. For others it might mean different things.
So then I can start to write. (Flexes fingers in anticipation.) Once I start, I should write without worrying about sentence structure, grammar, punctuation and ignoring the inevitable typos that come along. I should really never notice them! For some, setting a time for the session helps, knowing that they've only got to keep going for ten minutes or whatever time they've decided. For me, it’s more a case of writing till the scene is complete. Most of the time, it goes well.
Sometimes, I get stuck. Then I walk away from it – go for a walk, do some gardening, ironing or whatever. I don’t worrit about it, or the fact that Trollope wrote 250 words in fifteen minutes. So what? Nor do I think about the famous 10,000 hours rule that says you need to spend that many hours on something, be it tennis or playing the violin, before you can claim mastery. Over the years I probably have spent that many hours on creative writing. If I write for four hours a day, that's 2,500 days or 6.8 years. I've been writing longer than that. How long has it been for you?  (Or is my maths incorrect?)
Psychologist Ronald Kellogg says "Writing extended texts for publication is a major cognitive challenge, even for professionals who compose for a living." So there you are - give yourself some credit. You’re attempting something that is not easy, and there are bound to be hiccups along the way.

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