How We Write Wednesdays: Draft Free, Revise Strong…

Drafting with creative freedom is key. Writing without constraint. Drafting without clinging too tightly to planning or expectation. BUT we’ve said over and over on How We Write Wednesdays (HoWW)–you have to revise every rough word you draft. How do you lay the groundwork for the “rework” you know needs to be done, while you’re giving your stay committed to your creative freedom?

Jenni’s taking the lead over on her blog, revealing wondrous and amazing secrets for how she spreadsheets and charts her way into keeping track of story while she writes it. Me? Remember I’m a geeky, techno-loving girl who while drafting must continually slap my hand and let go of the overly organized stuff that enables the more analytical side of my brain. So nix on the forms and charts for me. But keeping track of changes I see coming and new things I draft into the story on the fly is still key. But I had to find a way to do it that wouldn’t break the delicate flow of my drafting…

draft free

So, what do I do?

I’ll talk more about it on Twitter, using our growing #weWRITE hashtag where writers from all levels of experience are sharing their writing process and learning from ours. But, to keep things simple here, let me say that I keep up with everything I’m learning as I draft a story in Microsoft Word.

Using the “Notes” toolbar/feature, which enables you to leave searchable notes you can easily track and keep up with, here’s the basics:

  •  Whenever I recognize a change that needs to be made in something I’ve already written, I leave a note where the change first needs to be implemented. I DON’T make the change, just the note.
  • When I introduce something completely new into the story (a new character, unexpected scene, different detail or symbol or mannerism, etc.), I note where it first begins and from where it needs to be worked into the stroy, then move on.
  • When I’m writing something I know is key but can’t get my head around exactly how to use it most effectively, I note that, too. Almost like leaving myself a marker–”Don’t forget to come back and explore this more. Work on this as you write forward, then come back and clean the cr**p up here!”
  • I even use these notes to indicate where I’ve dramatically changed turning points and so forth that I’d planned to hit but as I draft have realized don’t work the way I’d thought they wold. These are kind of road signs showing where I chose to take a new path and why. That way, when it’s time to rewrite and I go back to my planning documents to see how best to focus my rewriting efforts, I have a history of what I was thinking while I drafted and why I chose to write in the new directions I have.

Like I said, I’ll share more out on #weWRITE (or in the HoWW comments). I don’t mean to make this kind of analysis, “while I’m not allowed to be analytical,” seem overly simplistic. The complexity of what I do, I think, comes from compartmentalizing the notes/makers I  leave in my wake while I plug into the unrestrained creative part of me from which stories bloom. Discussing my process usually evolved into a lively couple of hours when I’m teaching rewriting during a weekend retreat. My brain’s that off-centre, I guess ;o)

And, remember, you might be like Jenni. You might need the analytical stuff to feel comfortable enough to draft free. We’re all different. That’s the point of HoWW. Listen to what we do, watch others, then figure out your own process and how best to improve how YOU write. So YOU can draft better and more productively and have what you need to rewrite something brilliant from those rough first words.

Starting next week. Jenni and I will be talking about our take on basic story structure and writing craft terms and techniques that many who regularly visit HoWW and #weWRITE have asked us to discuss in more detail. We’re also lining up some amazing authors to guest blog about their unique writing processes.

We’ll be here all summer ;o) Don’t forget to tip your waitress, LOL!

Don’t miss a single Wednesday!

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