By Lexie Smith
Process, process and more process. That was definitely the word of the night for February’s Third Thursday Program, “The First Draft: Let the Words Rip!”
Authors W.K. “Kip” Stratton, Greg Garrett, Jacqueline Kelly and Keith Graves gave us a behind-the-books look at the creation of their first drafts and how they write. Greg even shared his personal magic formula for writing a first draft.
Here are some practical tips the panelists shared:
● Don’t write a shoddy first draft, despite what you read in some books.
● Listen to the voice(s) in your head. (Use caution when letting others know about those voices!)
● Build up a portfolio of work before you expect an advance on your utterly compelling project.
● Keep a journal of ideas about characters, plots, etc. Paragraphs of explanation aren’t needed. One-liners will do.
● Develop your plot around a favorite character.
● Working on your writing doesn’t require a keyboard, pad or pen. It happens [click the red “Read More” button below to continue] throughout your day as ideas stew.
● Enjoy the process.
● Airports and hospitals are ripe with potential new characters.
● A few ways to get unstuck: set aside your work for a bit, adult beverages, hypnosis, and reading something different from what you’re writing.
● The magic formula for writing a first draft is . . . find what works for you!
How do you find what works for you? Before you can find your process for writing, you have to try to write. Figure out what combination of thought and action will help you get words out of your brain and into print. Learn about how other writers create, take what works for you and throw out the rest.
The word process comes from the Latin, prōcessus, which means “a going forward.” Are you going forward with your writing? Are you figuring out how to move from one place in your writing to another? If you are, encourage yourself with that. If not, try something new and keep moving forward.
Did you have a favorite quote of the night? Was there a tip that was particularly helpful? Don’t keep it to yourself! Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Books & authors recommended or mentioned
● Dorothea Brande, Becoming a Writer – get up early to dump ideas before day starts.
● James Crumley, Last Good Kiss – literary influence on Kip, subject of current project.
● Robert Gardner, The Art of Fiction – plot is most important part, referenced Brande.
● Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird – proponent of crappy first draft to get past perfectionism.
● Robert Olen Bulter – gestation of ideas mentioned, no book cited.
Last but not least, The Writer’s League offers many opportunities, in person and online, for inspiration and information about growing in your writing process. Don’t forget to explore the WLT Site for upcoming events and programs!
Lexie Smith is a WLT member who enjoys connecting people with information through LexicalLight.com, BloggingForWriters.com and 64mascots.com. A University of Texas graduate, she taught middle school English and, until recently, homeschooled her children. She lives in Round Rock with her husband, five kids and two rescued Boxers.
Robert Olen Butler’s book is called From Where You Dream and discusses a zen-like approach to writing involving accessing your subconsious.
Robert Olen Butler’s book is called From Where You Dream and discusses a zen-like approach to writing involving accessing your sub conscience.
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