The Writing Process, Again

Apparently I'm more of a creature of habit than I thought.  Every year about this time I write a post about going back to the basics.  These pithy thoughts may be disguised in several different ways, but basically what I end up writing about is the writing process.

And that's what I'm going to write about again today.

Actually, this is the first in a whole series of posts on the writing process, that will continue throughout next week.  Each post will focus on one aspect of the writing process, as I see it,  including glumping it on the page, rewriting, and revising.  Oh, and on Monday there's a bonus post about critiquing and the writing process. I've written about the parameters of the writing process so much I'm not going to do it here again today, so if you need a refresher go here or here.

Today I want to talk about why I'm such a fervent believer in the writing process.

Because any other manner of writing makes me into a crazy person.

Say I set out to write an article about, hmmm,  pugs.  And since I know a fair amount about pugs, I decide that I should be able to write this baby up right quick.  And so I make up an outline and then take each step of the outline and write about it.  Piece of cake.  Except what comes out is tight and boring and constricted.


Because I'm imposing perfection on my article.  I'm assuming I know so much that I don't need to write a rough draft and then another draft and then another and another.  Because I know so much that the rought draft, my first pass, will be perfect. 

But the opposite is true.  In bypassing the writing process, I've bypassed all the places where the magic happens.  The first place is in the glumping phase, when you just let it all hang out on the page, every single damn bit of it, in a glorious unorganized way.  Sometimes in this phase you learn stuff you didn't even know you knew, or fresh ideas appear unbidden.  Which is why this step is sometimes called the discovery draft.

And magic happens further down the line, too.  It occurs when you go back to that discovery draft with fresh eyes, seeing it as beautiful, raw treasure.  And then you get to shape it into a thing of even more beauty, a thing that your readers will love.

The first draft is for the writer to figure out the story.  The second draft is for the writer to figure out how best to present the story to her readers.

And that's just all there is to it.  Of course, as far am I'm concerned, the best rules of writing are the ones that work for you, so if you've found a better way, feel free to share in the comments.  And come back on Monday when I discuss the role of critiquing in the rough draft.


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