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November 30, 2010

What's the magic number when re-drafting?

How many drafts do you have to do before your manuscript will be 'right'?

Should writers really be spending as long polishing their work before submission as some would have us believe? Going through laboriously, line by line, and making our verbs wonderfully strong and emphatic and our metaphors sparkle? Or is this one of the great fallacies perpetuated among new writers?

Perhaps, instead, we should just write that first draft (a difficult enough task for many!) tidy up the spelling and grammar, incorporate the changes suggested by one or two trusted readers and then send it out?

To some extent, the answer depends on the individual, and where they currently are in their journey as a writer, remembering that each of us works differently.

November 21, 2010

Refilling the creativity well

View over my vegetable garden in Spring
While every writer is different, I believe that for many of us, inspiration flows from somewhere among the rich tapestry of threads which make up our lives. So to bring our best writerly selves (and fresh ideas) to the table/computer/notebook, we need to make sure that the other parts of our bodies and souls are 'full'. Fulfilled, regularly recharged, however you want to view it. For some people, that means a regular walk around the neighbourhood where they're free to wander and think. For others, it means getting into the kitchen and creating something.

A luxurious bath with essential oils. A shopping trip where you can be all alone. Time with family. Time with friends. Time to read. Travel.

However you prefer to 'recharge', doing so is essential, or over time, your ideas and words will become flat and stale. I'm sure we've all experienced this!

November 14, 2010

Music and the Muse: are there any lyrics writers out there?

Modern musical symbolsImage via Wikipedia
 When it comes right down to it, words are just words, and I know many of you out there write many things other than novels: poetry, flash fiction, short stories, non-fiction. Even reports, documentation and marketing copy in the boring day jobs!

So are there any lyrics writers out there?

November 9, 2010

Beta-readers NOT beta-writers

8.28.09Image by aprilzosia via Flickr
I was recently writing an email on critiquing to a young writer friend and it gave me the idea for this post, because it's something I've been thinking about lately.

I've read several blog posts by others sending thanks to the members of their online critique groups etc. And this made me realise that many, even most people who work with critique groups or partners, are pairing themselves with others of the writing fraternity/sorority to do so. Well yeah, I hear you say, scratching your head. That's the way it always seems to work. Writers in critique groups with other writers. So?

I just thought I'd mention that that wasn't the way things worked out for me. I did go down the path of trying to join a couple of critique groups after finishing my second novel, one online group and one face-to-face. I'm not sure why I didn't do so earlier. I think I was too focused on just writing! And when I did go through the exercise of trying to connect with other writers, I found the whole process less fruitful than I'd expected.
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