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Saturday, September 04, 2010

Where Ideas Lead: Sometimes to Good...or Bad...Writing

Plunging ahead into a fifth or sixth draft of a novel or the 10th revision of a short story, there have been some hurdles along the way, but for the most part, it's been smooth sailing. Right?
What if it has been rocky. Perhaps the novel revision has dropped lower and lower on the list of things to do. Finally the revision process drops out of the bottom of the list--behind cleaning the storm gutters and washing the windows. The energy once used to get through the first through nth draft isn't there.
It's become a struggle. Writer's block is not to blame.
Writing is a passion and is flowing through other writing projects. And, in the past, revision has been a relief (especially as an escape from household chores!).
When a revision is dragging, how soon before deciding that, yes, the writing is fine. The structure is passsable.
When is it time to consider that perhaps it's the initial idea that needs to be discarded or re-tooled?
Sometimes taking a look at the initial idea of a story--even after following it through several drafts--can prove to be the root of the problem. An idea, perhaps not well-developed in its beginnings, could provide a shaky base for the rest of the story to have built upon.
The inability to push through the drafts might be sending a message that the writer became distracted in the beginning of the writing process, perhaps not setting the firmest base of research or planning or even organization.
Even the best writers may falter in executing their passions if the foundations are weak or faulty. Good writing can suffer from poor preparations.
Try to take an objective look at the idea. Talk to others and ask for feedback. Determine if the idea is leading down a path of incoherent writing and a weak draft. Externalizing what may be happening can help solve the issues, even if it means re-starting at the beginning.

The path strewn with crumpled pieces of paper may what's left of years of work, but it can lead to a better and stronger finished product.

Elizabeth King Humphrey, a writer, editor and coach, took a picture of this crumpled page among many scattered throughout her North Carolina home. A sure sign of a novel in progress.

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