To write something a person has to put pen to paper or, in my case, fingers to keyboard.
I type fast, having learned how to keyboard while in high school. At that time, I never dreamed I would own a computer. My big dream was an IBM Selectric–an electric typewriter with a ball instead of keys that got jammed together when I typed too fast. After years of practice, I can keyboard almost as fast as I think. Definitely as fast as I can talk.
The ability to type rapidly enables me to get my thoughts in front of me without losing them as new thoughts are processed.
I set aside time to write on my calendar.
By scheduling my time, I know I am going to sit down in front of the keyboard and create something. That doesn’t mean I sit down to absolutely no idea of what to write. I always have a general idea of which direction I am going. I think about my stories or blog articles a lot before I actually show up at the keyboard. I make notes in my iPhone if something particularly meaty occurs to me.
I don’t always type something meaningful or enlightening. Often, it is just weird ramblings or several paragraphs in my novel that I can later delete.
The Delete Key
The main key to my writing is my delete key. I know some writers disagree with that and treat every word they write as if they were chiseled onto a stone table. For a while, I did, too. I saved every word instead of deleting until I had a folder chock-a-block full of deleted paragraphs, phrases and chapters.
I NEVER went back in to re-read them. Finally, I stopped saving everything and just delete, delete, delete. Eventually, after two years of sitting idle and unopened, I deleted my deleted paragraphs folder.
I love the process of editing what I write. How many times have I ran across something in someone else’s novel I am reading that just screams for an edit? It is almost disappointing to me when what I have written reaches that point where no further editing is necessary. In fact, the way I start writing when I am working on a novel is to read what I wrote the previous two or three days, edit while reading and then, I allow the ideas flow to add new content. By the time I reach the end of the first draft, it is a nearly perfectly edited piece.
Let It Rest
Then, I let it rest for several days or even weeks before reading again and checking for additional edits needed. I have at this point, chucked an entire body of work. I have rearranged chapters, I have eliminated chapters. I have even eliminated characters. Then, I let it rest again. And so forth until I am satisfied with the end product.
Working from an outline tends to limit my creativity.
I normally write on the fly, having a general idea of where I want the story to go. It is like flying an airplane by dead reckoning. I can pinpoint the landing as I get closer to my destination.
I was born in the 1950’s, live in a 122-year-old house in Virginia, I am retired, have an alcoholic brother living in my downstairs bedroom, and spend a great deal of my time writing. I have lived through the Kennedy assassination, civil rights, Neil Armstrong on the moon, and 9/11/2001. I have seen the Vietnam war, the war in Middle East, the war on drugs, Star Wars, and the war between men and woman. I have written hundreds of short stories and essays and a handful of novels. Only one novel was (self) published and one poem published in a collection.
I crochet, cook, have a veggie garden, an herb garden, a chicken coop full of chickens and I’m not afraid to try new things. I am not sustainable because I live in a city with a city-sized yard. Even with all of that, my favorite tool is my keyboard.
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