Monday, December 12, 2011

How I’ve been writing lately

Recently, it seems like my writing process falls into the same pattern: an idea strikes, I do some planning, I zip through a completely horrendous first draft, I revise (and revise, revise, revise), and then I edit.

My writing hasn’t always gone this way. During my occupancy at the MFA program a little more than a decade ago, I wrote more haphazardly. I’d get an idea, write a scene or two, and then I’d let the story or characters tell me where we were going. Or I’d go back and make that first scene or two really pretty.

Nowadays (what a fun word), as I’m writing that first draft, it’s so completely awful that I shut my screen if somebody (like my husband) passes nearby. Sometimes I’m groaning out loud as I leave out character descriptions, script out dialogue so clunky it has square wheels, and write in stage directions for me to flesh out later (“Character really mad here.”).

It’s not pretty, and it’s not fun, writing that first draft. But the enjoyment for me comes in the revising process: making the writing work, getting that dialogue spinning, finding the right descriptions.

I’m shifting between that first draft and the revising process today, having just completed the final scene of a project. I’m going from being a house painter to painting on canvas: switching from sloppy broad strokes to detail work, work that will get the picture right. Let the fun begin!

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