Many writers will already know Kristen Lamb’s blog, but this article is worth rereading and rereading. She uses the metaphor of Kirk and Spock to discuss a classic method of bypassing the inhibiting part of our conscious mind. Such strategies are relevant to other arts as well: actors who practice improv, or visual artists who draw with the non-dominant hand to see what emerges. Enjoy this most encouraging post!
Many new authors slog out that first book, editing every word to perfection, revising, reworking, redoing. When I used to be a part of critique groups, it was not at all uncommon to find writers who’d been working on the same book two, five, eight and even ten years. Still see them at conferences, shopping the same book, getting rejected, then rewriting, rewriting…..
Great, maybe Kathryn Stockett, the author of The Help took five years and 62 revisions to get her story published. Awesome for her. And yes, her book was a runaway success, but this isn’t the norm. It’s playing Literary Lottery with our careers.
For most writers, it will be hard to have a long-term successful career if our pace is a book or two a decade.
Most authors who’ve made legend status were all talented, yes. But many were (are) also prolific.
Does Writing Quickly Produce…
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Timely for me. My #1 current writing challenge is to increase my speed. I hear about other writers cranking tens of thousands of words in short periods of time–I struggle with 500 per day. I really want to write faster. Maybe thinking in these terms–Spock brain vs Kirk brain–will help.
It helps me too. Sometime ago I read a Wall Street Journal article on the writing methods of ten successful writers (defined by publications and sales). I believe I referenced here and it’s probably tagged as “writing.”
All 10 methods were different and several aimed at getting that first draft done without the critical voices. I remember that one writer got up at 4:00 or 5:00am, set his computer screen to black and the text to gray, and wrote for several hours. Then he went back to sleep and later in the morning, edited what he wrote. One used voice to text software to dictate into text form. Another wrote fast in notebooks and then would literally cut and paste, with an xacto knife and scotch tape.
I found this article very helpful too, as the desire for a “polished first draft” is pretty pervasive.