Thoughts About Writing Inspired by #FinCon12 (part 2)

So now that I’ve addressed the questions about voice, what about the general writing questions? Here’s the thing about writing- I can’t tell you how to do it. I can teach you about content, about story needs, character, etc. But I can’t tell you how to actually sit down and write.
I can tell you what works for me. I can tell you what works for my friends. I can give you ideas to try, but I can’t tell you what will work for you. Only you can figure that out.
As a procrastinator, I write best when I have deadlines, unless I am particularly inspired. But that’s why I do have a set blogging schedule (even though many experienced bloggers argue against that) because I need the power of a deadline, even if I’m the one who set it.
I also need dedicated writing time NOT at home. I have a very difficult time writing anything- blog posts or fiction -when I’m at home. The dogs want attention. My husband wants attention, or my bed and the tv look so relaxing. There are just too many distractions from what I want to write.
I actually do some good writing at work on slow days. I’m writing this while at FinCon. I work on my fiction for about an hour prior to every critique group meeting at a Starbucks.
For blog posts, I don’t have too many drafts. Generally, I write what I want to write, do a quick scan for typos and put it up. If, while I’m writing, I realize the post has jumped the shark, I delete the whole thing and start over. Sometimes that means I start a post 3 or 4 times, but for the most part, it’s a one and done.
For fiction, I write and share my first rough draft with my critique group. And then I put it away. I don’t look at it again until I’m done, unless something very strongly inspires me to change it. My fiction tends to have many drafts. Still, when I go to do my initial edits, I rewrite the whole scene. I don’t go into the text I have written and make edits. I start with a fresh piece of paper and do a wholesale rewrite. It’s only when I’m near a final draft that I simply edit the words on the page, instead of starting from scratch.

I have friends who only write at home; who only bring their 3rd or 4th draft to critique group, who go home and make their edits immediately. That is what works for them. Some set dedicated writing time every day, and they write during that time, no matter where they are (home, swim practice, etc). And that is what works for them. You have to find what works for you.

As for exercises, there are tons of them. Most of the ones I know are for fiction, but they can be adapted to blogging or non-fiction. Since most blogging is storytelling in some form or another, any exercise that helps you form stories can help.
For me, the “exercise” that works best for me is micro writing. Whether it’s my microblog- 100 Words On… where every post is exactly 100 words long, or if it’s micro or flash fiction. These exercises help me distill what I want to say to their essence. It prevents me from babbling or going off on tangents.
Even if I plan on putting the post up on one of my longer blog post sites, if I’m having a hard time focusing on the post, I do the 100 words exercise, and then I let myself expand from there.

The key to all writing- blogging or fiction -is to be yourself. Write like yourself. Write when it works for you. By putting yourself at the center of your writing (not exactly the content, but the actual act of writing) you will have consistent voice and get the writing that you need to get done done.

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