Raising the bar – Part 1

by juliusmsanz

So how do you raise the bar as a writer?

For me, and we’re talking about the very early stages – the kind you get to start writing and working on your story – it’s all about being organized. It might not be very noticeable, but in the end it’s a difference maker.

It’s a difficult thing for me, all these characters, ideas, scenes, plots and subplots and more, sometimes it just gets extremely chaotic. And you still need to have time to mull these things over, to put them on paper, to get all the little details you have on your mind sometimes when you wake up, sometimes when you’re in the middle of work or even a meal.

I can only speak for myself, but I used to see writers as a disorganized bunch.

I wrote my first failure in such conditions, I should have known better.

I had some goals, but didn’t know how to achieve them the right way.

What is the right way? The efficient way.

Everything goes so much smoother when you know how to save time and frustration, when you know how to proceed over the muddy swamp that is writing a novel. The very first crucial mistake I made? I was thinking over things as I was writing. Not just the plot, but even the sentences, correcting things while writing and wasting time, sometimes spending over half an hour on one sentence. What do I do now? I write between 1000 and 1500 words over each hour that I write. I don’t care if it’s right or wrong, I machine gun them over the pages. And the result? I find that I get much more work done. I select a couple of hours or so everyday the moment I know I won’t have any disruptions. Cooking? Already done. Work? Finished. Any other chores or things I have to do? Either done or left for the next day. And it’s easy to skip writing and do those things, especially easy when you think your writing won’t flow, when you’re stuck midway, but you must set your word count goals and follow them. Don’t go for easy ones either, go for broke each day, write as much as you can within your time limit. If that scene isn’t working, just write the next one.

I know that the first draft is just that: the first draft. After that comes the polishing, and THAT is the time-consuming part, but guess what? It comes only after you finished your first draft. When you get to revise you can take your time, but at least the draft is finished.

Now I’m not saying that you should write aimlessly, do so after you thought the structure and characters and those things over. Because after that your writing won’t be that aimless after all.

So the obvious tip here is this: have proper hours for writing, set your goals and then give it your all in that alloted time. Save up those little notes you’re writing and work them over in a proper environment. That’s being efficient: you’re doing things faster, easier and most likely better!

Stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow!