Zoom Zoom. (Thanks Thanate!)

Process is something I geek over. Immensely. I love seeing how other people do things — not because I expect to find a magic button that will make it all come together effortlessly. There is no effortless in writing. Writing is effort, no matter whether it is pleasurable or painful, or both. Besides, my process geekery extends to pretty much anything.

When it comes to writing, I love seeing how other people get it done, because it either reinforces that I am doing something right or it shows me another toolset or strategy that would help my own efforts. (And if my process helps others, even better, but I suspect of little value to others at this time.) Show me a writer’s website where they show a picture of their edited paper copy draft, or their white board, or their collection of scene cards, and I squee. It’s kind of embarassing.

I can draft and I can get to an ending. I draft best under two conditions: either I am in the middle of a work-in-progress and I know where the scene is going or I have the pieces of a prompt that have clicked with strong visuals and I just run with it. Either case, I work better with nondescript background noise like a public place or with orchestral music, soundtracks and the like, that match the emotional pitch. I can only handle songs with lyrics if they almost perfectly match what’s in my head, and even then it’s like revving up the engine and then I need over to orchestral, like switching gears on the car.

Editing? Ha ha ha ha … that is a skill set I am still learning. And trying to apply the same work-flow strategy to it as I used with writing wasn’t working. As I moaned earlier in a previous post, I started out well enough, but then it became a grind. I was going for a set number of words to cover each session, and was reluctant to end the session early if I didn’t meet the goal. This meant my evenings were dragging out, and I was distracting myself with Twitter and games and such. I lowered the benchmark, started not hitting that, lowered it again, and again, and self-loathing, and so on and so forth.

Then Ann (@thanate7 over on Twitter) said something terribly smart in a reply to a previous blog post (see: moaning) about editing to a set period of time, using a stop watch instead of a word count goal. I dismissed it too quickly, thinking that if I wasn’t making progress in 3 or more hours, how would I in one hour?

But after another week of moaning and hitting my head on the keyboard, I gave it a try. One hour, I told myself, and after that I can do whatever the hell I want, so no toys during that 60 minutes.

And did it ever work! Holy cow. Zoom Zoom. I am a Mazda again! Just like back in the drafting days. And weirdly, it works even better for me if I have bouncy rock/pop playing, songs with lyrics I know by heart, while I’m editing. Music I could sing to was the kiss of death for me while drafting. The whole session would crap out and it ended up me playing Ms. Karaoke Bar in my office. Not productive.

I have 80,000 words behind me, 40,000 to go. It is by no means polished — this is a story/character/setting revision, and will still need further tweaks before a final line edit — but this is the forward momentum I need.

Back to it.


One thought on “Zoom Zoom. (Thanks Thanate!)

  1. Once upon a time I turned my nose up at determining my success or failure based on word count, and since this summer that’s been creeping back in. @thanate7’s idea seems to be a positive spin on that sort of work process, a very smart way of keeping butts in chairs for a certain amount of time and getting something done – worth a try, that’s for sure!

    As far as my drafting process is concerned, I’m starting to think that drafting is a process built on either contemplation (lots and lots of it), or pure enthusiasm. The book I’m writing right now is built on the former, and I think it is the most creative work I’ve ever put together, but it sometimes took weeks to figure out a couple chapters. The books that people are reading and enjoying right now are mostly built on the former – pure enthusiasm. While I shudder at the editing challenge an overly enthusiastic draft becomes, I sometimes miss the seat-of-the-pants, channelling my inner hero/villain/distressing damsel experience that came with that exciting style of writing.

    Enthusiastic writing also brought on great big, juicy word counts. At the same time I like the result of thoughtful writing. Maybe I’ll discover a balance someday – thoughtful enthusiastic writing. Then again, that doesn’t sound like much fun. Maybe I’ll just try a stop watch and try to beat the clock while drafting, then stay in the chair while editing.

    Great blog post!


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