Friday, March 06, 2015

Drafting, revising, editing, and writing productivity? Oh, my!

When I'm writing, I begin with a germ of an idea, an image, something that pulls me away from this moment. But when I actually start, I feel invisible, the story unfolds. It's about getting to that place so that I can write. So that I care so much about the characters and what they are doing, that the story drives me forward and the scenes spill onto the page (even a virtual page). 

Yep, that's my workstation!
Revising is entirely different. Now I'm concentrating on so many things at once that it takes me many, many times to 'finish' the story -- the sentence, the paragraph, the scene, the chapter, the section, the book itself. 

I'm not the most logical person, but working this way on different levels of the book helps me organize exactly what my focus is. 

Editing at the micro level takes me to the words themselves, the exact word, phrase, sentence; to shape the paragraphs, test the dialogue, the energy, the images of the characters, setting, and the intensity of the writing. Some writers call this copy editing.

Revising is more structural, here I'm working at the macro level, considering how scenes fit together (transitions), whether characters' actions fit their personal arc, whether conflict is sufficient (always a problem for me. Like Victorian writers, I want the 'bad stuff' to happen off scene).  Then to the chapter itself: Does this chapter hold true to itself -- and to the overall story? Some writers call this developmental writing or structural editing.

Either editing or revising requires a very different mindset from drafting.Sometimes checklists help me, but I'm pretty much a random, nonsequential writer, jumping into what pulls me back into the story and/or how I'm feeling on this particular day. Checklists (like those in Elizabeth Lyon's remarkable book, Manuscript Makeover) remind me of writing strategies I've forgotten or inspire me to look at the story from another vantage. 

For me, writing does begin with me sitting in front of the computer, relatively early, every morning. This year, I'm concentrating on editing and revising Rivers of Stone. At this stage, I have no real deadline, though wouldn't it be nice to improve my writing productivity?

Yes, it would. So, here are a few goodies to prompt our thinking about writing productivity:

Kevin J. Anderson's engaging and useful Eleven Tips to Increase Your Writing Productivity got me thinking. His first tip: "Shut up and write!"

If you are looking for more tools to use, Bakari Chavanu's "From Idea to Final Draft: How To Increase Your Writing Productivity" dives into useful computer add-ons, starting off with, "You don't have to be Stephen King to be a productive writer . . . "

Susan Lenard's "Increasing Your Writing Productivity: The Productivity Pyramid" builds from her personal experience to introduce a productivity pyramid, with fascinating looks at how other writers work. 

All of these are well worth a read. Now, what tricks or strategies do you use to improve your writing productivity? Share?