almost 10 tips on writing …
August 26, 2010 § 12 Comments
Is there anything new here? It depends on what you write and how long you’ve been writing. Overall, this is me talking to myself about a short piece that’s driving me crazy. Good kind of crazy, but still, my eyes are kinda glazed. And tired, pooped, longing to look at someone else’s writing.
1) Take a swipe at that editor on your shoulder, or who’s reading over your shoulder as you write. Kick him/ her out, totally and slam the door on him. Just get the words on the paper. Get ’em down and get it done. And no, it can’t be all the junk that comes into your head first.
2) Get a title. First. Use it to guide what you have to write, especially if you’re on deadline. It will help you adhere. Sit down, spin out some good titles, turn everything off and write the darn piece.
3) It’s not always good. Yeah, you know that Anne Lamott and E Hemingway both said the first draft is s***. So’s the second or third draft. And those who use “cut and paste” well, it’s impossible to tell how many drafts you’re doing. So finish it, let it sit. Look at it later. Let it sit, yeah, even if you’re on tight deadline. Build in some “let it breathe” time. Cuz you gotta go back and nail it, make it right. Writers have ethics. This is one of the “ethics.”
4) If you’re writing for a news publication, you better consign yourself to the task at hand, answer the 5 w’s and get the piece written, in a forthright and honest manner. No one is paying you to win the Pulitzer for last minute assignments. They’re paying you to fill a certain space with something as compelling as you can get it, in a short time frame. It. is. your. job. Borrow someone’s protestant work ethic and get it done.
5) Check spelling. Ha – you think this is a boring piece of advice? Success is in the details, babydoll. Look things up -do not ever ever take them for granted. It’s not McCloud, it’s McLeod. It’s not “he went further into the wood” but “farther.” Is it Carl or Karl? Do not assume. Don’t miss the grace notes. Read it all again before you press “send.”
6) Don’t cheat. Just because you’re writing a short piece of 400-600 words, doesn’t mean you don’t have to study it, check it, work it, work it work it work it. In fact, writing short is more difficult, more intense than writing long. You know the old thing about Voltaire writing a 6 page letter and at the end apologizing for writing such length because he didn’t have time to write a shorter letter. Seriously.
7) Don’t “silo.” If you can get someone else to read your piece, if there’s time before you have to send it in, then do it. What are you, a one-man band? (well, maybe sometimes.) Anway, be sure the person is a good reader and will speak up if something’s amiss and not someone who will “yes” you to pieces (like they do about your hair looking good and how no, you don’t look fat in that dress.)
8) There better be personal joy in the writing, personal “push” to spark it. If it isn’t working for you, keep pushing ’till it does. I recommend moving around. Mobility jumpstarts the thought process, works out the transitions, offers insights. Get up and move. Dance.
9) Once writing, don’t stop. Don’t allow personal anti-writing “A.D.D.” to take over – like worrying over the dust on the lampshade or a paper sticking out of the file drawer or the straightening of the shoes on the foyer mat. If all else fails, skip typing and pick up the pen. Don’t look up. Don’t worry that your hair needs coloring, your nails need painting or you have stuff in the dryer that will wrinkle if you don’t get it out.
10) There is no picture to go with this weeknight tired-as-heck lecture.
You a writer? Stop reading this and get writing.