When the creative spark ignites an internal flame, most people devote themselves to just getting the project done. Somewhere along the line doubts niggle about knowledge and skills or the viability of the project. Sometimes the creator becomes so overwhelmed with negative vibes that the project is abandoned. Other times the person ruthlessly crushes the doubts and forges ahead . . . only to find the final product dissatisfactory, not quite what was intended. The determined creator will analyze and tweak or sometimes even start over. The objective is to feel the end result is the best it can be.
Read through that paragraph again inserting writer wherever appropriate. Does that sound familiar?
As has been said by many a famous writer before me, the only way to get the writing done is to do it. Then do it again and again. The truly devout, addicted writer will keep at the craft until the mind is blank and the body has given out. This person is only satisfied when the best piece of writing has resulted. The attention to craft and detail never falters. Well, I should say with most people it may falter once in a while when confidence and “life issues” rob one of mental focus.
One of those creative robbers can also be bad writing habits. Psychology tells us it takes 21 days for a repetitive physical act to become a habit. The same electrical pathway is travelled in the brain, making it a little deeper each time thus easier to traverse. Memorization and athletic drills rely on this principle to make responses automatic. Ask any nurse or Marine.
I want to propose a deliberate change of thought pattern to redirect your way of thinking about the creative writing process. In the end you will find that you can achieve a more polished final product in less time. The stop-start cycle can be interrupted and changed into a steady flow. The need for long blocks of time can be subverted into 15 minute spurts of brilliance. Stumbling over grammar and awkward literary devices can weave naturally into your writing. All of this and more can be achieved through awareness and practice.
So to begin with, you study the how-to’s then you practice them and finally you apply them over and over.
Perfection is not only impossible; it is also boring. Anyone who reads a book and is shocked to find a typo, misused word or factual error is unrealistic. Anyone who thinks line-editing their own work will prevent such errors is delusional. The human mind’s eye tends to see what it expects to see, especially if material has been reread several times. That’s why there are both editors and copy-editors in publishing houses. The first looks at the big picture while the later is the nit-picky detail person. And still errors creep in. Que sera sera. Don’t obsess. Instead, pay attention to your own glass house.
Sally Walker’s published credits include literary, romance and western novels, a nonfiction essay collection, several creative writing textbooks, stage plays, poetry, and many magazine articles on the craft of writing, including staff contributions to two international film magazines for 10 years. With 30 screenplays written, one optioned in 2013, several under negotiation at three different studios and two novel-to-screenplay adaptations on her plate, Sally has a well-respected manager representing her in Hollywood. In addition to long time active memberships in such national writing organizations as RWA, WWA and SCBWI, she was president of the prestigious Nebraska Writers Guild 2007-2011. She keeps to a strenuous writing schedule and still has time to work as Editorial Director for The Fiction Works, supervising acquisitions and sub-contracted editors. Sally has taught writing seminars, both on-site and on-line, for over 25 years and is the facilitator for the weekly meetings of the Nebraska Writers Workshop in Ralston, NE. For more information on her works and classes go to her website at http://www.sallyjwalker.com