Friday Finesse: When Should You Share Your Rough Draft?

Friend and fellow writer Jenni asked me an excellent question about writing rough drafts: when is the best time to share it with others? She asked if one should “dump, then do some editing, then share? Or just dump and plow on until you have a full first draft completed?”
Such a good question.  And, as I was formulating the answer in my mind, an email from writer Chris Fox popped into my inbox.  Chris Fox is a novelist and an author of many helpful books for writers, and he once wrote a novel in 21 days. Yep, you read that right. 21 days. (He also happens to share a name with one of my very favorite cousins, which always confuses me when I see his name in my inbox.)  Chris is launching a book today, but in his email he also included a link to his most recent video.
I’m glad I watched it, because it saves me lots of blog-writing time today. He essentially answers Jenni’s question, though that’s not the point of the video. He talks about how to get into the state of flow, and why you want to.  The flow state (also known as the zone), is when you are flinging words at the page.  Or dumping them, as Jenni said. His main point is that this state of flow is a very different brain state from that of editing. And if you are trying to do both, you are essentially multi-tasking. And, as we all should know by now, multi-tasking does not work.
But here’s the bit that speaks to Jenni’s question: Chris says you can either stay in flow for the whole draft and then edit, or do a chapter or chunk at a time and then edit. What is valuable about the latter option is that you can learn what is and isn’t working–and then apply it as you move forward, during your next flow state.  So you write in flow, edit and analyze, figure out what isn’t working, rinse and repeat. Make sense?
I think he explains it better than I do, so here’s his video:

What do you think? What is your working pattern?

Friday Finesse: Writing by Hand

Last weekend at the lunch after my Essence of the Essay class, one of the students asked me if I wrote mostly on the computer, or by hand.  I answered (a bit unpleasantly smugly, I realized later) that I wrote so much content that needed to be on the computer (blog, newsletter, classes, novel) that I’d trained myself to write mostly via keyboard.

But then I started thinking about how much I actually do write by hand.  So a better answer would be that I do both.  When I’m stuck on a scene in my WIP novel, I go directly to the page. I cannot figure stuff out while typing. It has to be by hand.  There’s something about the direct physical connection from brain to hand that opens up a flow in me.  I take a lot of “priming the pump” notes by hand.  And of course, I write in my journal by hand. (Years ago, I had a brief period of keeping a password-protected journal on the computer. It was terrible.)

And I recommend you write by hand, at least once in a while, too. Why? Because writing by hand directly onto the page is a different cognitive process than typing on a keyboard.  As such, it can open up different vistas into your creative work.

In an article in the Guardian a few years ago an expert explained that the process of handwriting is more complicated than typing: “Handwriting is a complex task which requires various skills – feeling the pen and paper, moving the writing implement, and directing movement by thought,” says Edouard Gentaz, professor of developmental psychology at the University of Geneva.

And as the article further points out, with the physical page, you can write in all kinds of ways. You can scribble notes in margins, write upside down, turn the paper sideways and write, doodle as you write.  This is a boon to your creativity and allows your brain to expand in many directions.  One more benefit–you have proof right in front of you of what you’ve done.  Yes, you can edit on the computer, but off go the corrections as soon as you’ve made them.

For a great infographic on some of these ideas, check out this page.

So I encourage you to foster some hand-writing habits, at least part of the time. (I’m certainly not advocating writing your novel draft entirely by hand—though some writers do just that.)  And let me know what new vistas it unlocks.

Meanwhile, if you are in need of unlocking new vistas, I’m running a Freedom and Independence Coaching special through the Fourth of July.    For three-month, paid in advance clients, I’m offering two free extra sessions.  That’s 14 sessions instead of 12. And for six-month, paid in advance clients, I’m adding on 4 sessions. Woot! That’s 28 sessions instead of 24.  Just think what you can get done in a few months of one-on-one coaching with me. You could get a huge start on your novel. Or finish the project that’s moldering in the drawer. Or start the process of getting an agent—or get your book self published.

Interested? Email me and we’ll set up a time to talk.