Two brains; Write and Edit.

2013-02-06-LeftBrainRightBrain21

When I commenced my first novel I succumbed to the urge to edit each chapter as it was finished, as a first draft. Even worse was the temptation to edit sentences as they were written.

By writing, I mean the creative act of splurging out the first draft, the ideas, and the story. It will be rough, they’ll be some good bits of writing, some excellent. But don’t hang back; the story needs to flow out.

The problem is the two halves of the brain. The right hand side which is creative, intuitive and feeling, the hiding place of the elusive muse. It doesn’t recognise time; it is the mode of processing you are using when an hour feels like five minutes. Then there is the left; analytical, dealing with numbers, critical and logical, cold and unfeeling.

The left brain is a poor cousin to the right when it comes to creativity; it stifles innovation by its critical nature. It is perfectly equipped for editing but not writing.

If you are writing and start to edit, the left brain takes over. OK, no problem, switch back to the right. No, it’s not that easy, the left is dominant, especially in men. Get into the zone, the flow; editing comes much later. Avoid any temptation to change anything, else the left brain will pounce. Immerse yourself in the story; tell it, off the cuff.

By all means, if there is a sentence you’ve forgotten, or a whole paragraph, go back and slot it in, that’ s writing, the ideas, the creative process.

As a final task at the end of writing session, and only at the end, I read what I’ve written. Who can’t resist it? That will give me the ideas for the next session, making a few notes, just a line or two. That way I don’t start off with a read back and get into editing mode.

Stephen King suggests no more than three months for a first draft for these reasons. Whether you are writing full time or part time, it’s worth bearing that in mind.

Don’t Procrastinate.

One final post for today.

‘Ragged Heart’ was started in 2012, yep, two years ago. The plot, research and about 1200 words, Then nothing more. For two years! OK, so ‘life’ got in the way a little perhaps, circumstances. But looking back, I did have time to write. What was lacking? Motivation, creativity, passion? I don’t know. But I could have written two books in that time.

I don’t beat myself up over it, but try to learn. I’m now in my early fifties, just beginning a life long desire to write stories. I should have done it years ago. At my age one is aware of the limited time available to us, perhaps you see wasted years.

My advice based on that? If you’ve got something you want to do, and you have a passion for it, then do it! Much has been written in literature and contemporary songs about the passing of time. Don’t allow yourself to feel a strong desire to do something then realise ten years have passed with nothing done. Grab your passion and ACT, now!

life

Keep Writing! This time, a different way.

When the draft for Ragged Heart was finished I thought, OK, edit over the course of the year and somewhere along the way begin a new novel. I realised, very soon, that I wasn’t writing; my target is a minimum of 600 words per day.

The guidance I read time and time again is that writers must read and write constantly.

A new novel had to be started, the idea came to me one night in bed, and so I commenced work on ‘The Sagittarius Incident’. A scifi/disaster story.

A couple of weeks ago I read Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’, after seeing it quoted time and again. Wonderful! Highly recommended. One particular thing stuck in my mind, Stephen recommends not plotting. Get the story/situation in your mind then write. Build the plot/theme/symbolism during editing. He says that if he gets to a point in his story where he doesn’t know what is going to happen next, effectively as the first reader, then that suspense will carry on to his readers. Plotting can make the story stilted and contrived. It made sense.

So, with ‘The Sagittarius Incident’ I have dispensed with plotting. ‘Ragged Heart’ took two months of plotting and research before writing a single word. My new book hit the ground running with over 7000 words in three weeks (yes, well below my 600 words a day, I do have other commitments!). Already, in this story I have come to the point where a daughter is mentioned as having a rare disease, nothing more was stated to hold the suspense. Future readers will be curious to know the illness, guaranteed, because even I didn’t know what the disease was going to be when I wrote it!

It lets the story tell itself, more organic. I’ll run with it for the new book and see how I feel at the end. Will I go back to plotting? Time will tell.

Ragged Heart synopsis. My debut novel, first draft completed.

Actually, it was completed a month ago, but I’ve only just started this blog. I’m now into the editing process and the search for a book cover. It is my intention to create my own cover, I know some people say go professional, but budget counts and I’m very much a DIY’er in all aspects of my life. Hell, if you’ve got the creativity to write your own book then surely that creative process can be extended to the cover design!

It will be the end of this year before editing is complete and the book is published so I believe there is plenty of time to invest in perfecting a cover. I’ve found several resources for using PowerPoint or Word and I also have access to GIMP. Which way I go is yet to be decided but I will post links/method in due course.

Here is the synopsis for Ragged Heart;

Mike had everything to look forward to, a successful Army career drawing to a close, a beautiful wife with her own business and two wonderful children. No stranger to the horrors of war, he is injured on duty and a young Afghan girl, bearing a likeness to his daughter, dies in his arms. The physical wounds will heal quickly, but the mental trauma begins to tear his life apart. Battling to save his marriage and sanity he embarks on a sailing trip to the Scottish Islands only to be plunged into a world of damaged people and a plot to steal an historic relic. Finally his daughter contracts a life threatening illness.

Help comes from an unusual source. Can he win his personal battle, overcome his demons and return to the life he knew?

An adventure, love story and thriller about lives pitted against the trials of circumstance, exploring the depths of the human condition. A roller coaster ride of emotion and interpersonal relationships.

I’ll be posting sample chapters later, further down the editing path.

Make it Happen!

How hard is it to start a blog? Easy. But let’s rephrase that, how easy is it to start a successful blog?
That was my concern and so I trawled the internet looking for advice. There are many resources out there, but my personal favourite is Jeff Goins.

http://goinswriter.com/launch-blog/

By following his guidelines, amongst others, my intention is to produce an informative, helpful and interesting blog.
That’s the hard part done; what to write first? Just do it! Done 🙂