Going Back to the Basics

I'm sitting in the Houston airport, on my way home from Nashville, pondering the past weekend of the Writer's Loft orientation.

I did a workshop for the orientation called Jump Start Your Book with a Vision Board (soon to be an ebook available right here).  In the final hour of the workshop, we all made vision boards having to do with our books. But in the first two hours, we wrote.  And wrote some more, and more and more.


Basically, I took the group through a series of free writing exercises based on the elements of creative writing: character, conflict, setting, plot, symbol and theme, and style.  And we talked a lot about the writing process in its most basic form:

  • Glumping it all on the page (also known as a Shitty First Draft)
  • Rewrite
  • Rewrite
  • Rewrite
  • Rewrite
  • Rewrite some more
  • Revise (which is the final step, concerning yourself with grammar, word choice, etc.)

The workshop broke open lots of ideas for people and I accredit it to going back to the basics.  Because here's what happens: we decide we want to write, then begin a regular writing practice.  And because a regular writing practice makes our writing better, pretty soon we're getting good.  And when we get good, we start to think that we don't need to follow all that beginner stuff of the writing process, because we're good.  We should be able to just whip out a first draft that doesn't need rewriting or revision.  And then the writing becomes stilted and stiff, because we're not allowing ourselves to write from our heart.

So ponder where you are in your writing life and experiment with going back to the basics.  See what happens if you find a prompt and set a timer and just write without stopping, really without stopping, for 15 or 20 minutes.  The prompt can and probably should be related to one of your current writing projects. Or do what I do and choose a prompt while keeping your current project in mind. 

Try it.  And report back.  You may be amazed what happens if you go back to the basics.

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